I am absolutely ashamed to admit that I discovered plantains at the age of 34. From a designer’s point of view, this is almost excusable – it’s actually quite hard to make a distinction between a plantain and a banana. However, from a culinary point of view, it is a disaster. Especially when you live with a Venezuelan, who is proudly introducing you to his national cuisine. The punishment may vary, depending on the environment. If you are strolling around a shop in Europe, you will have to endure a lecture about the difference between an apple and a pear and how bananas and plantains relate to each other in the same fashion. If you are in Latin America, things may get worse. You may be publicly crucified on TV with Hugo Chavez reporting live from the national stadium in Caracas.
Anyway, trespasses aside, the plantain and the banana have something in common. Because according to Wikipedia, the encyclopedia that nobody trusts but everybody reads, all bananas are plantains. But here’s the catch. Not all plantains are bananas. The main culinary difference is in the taste – bananas are much sweeter and have more aggressive flavor. Plantains are as sweet as normal potatoes, don’t smell that much and are usually not eaten raw, you either cook them or fry them. They also come in several varieties – from green, yellow to mild orange. But the best way to recognize them is to look at their tips. They are a bit elongated in comparison to bananas.