It’s Sunday night and I’m currently listening to a good old American country song by the very, very, very smoochable Luke Bryan that goes “It’s homemade peach ice cream on sunburnt lips, that’s what country is”. I just thought I’d share the wise word with all of you, I mean I’m sure you too were wondering what country music was. Ladies, seriously, click on the link above. Anywho, on to this recipe.
Actually no before I talk about the recipe I have more random things to share. Remember I’m currently living in a place where I have no friends, so the blog is my cathartic vector of expression… so bear with me (or scroll down to the recipe, which I’m sure 99% of you will do, the 1% left being my one unconditional reader…Hi mom!).
So it’s no surprise that I have a soft spot for South American culture, after all it’s not for nothing that I’ve voluntarily chosen to make it my home three times already. And while I adore so many things like the food, the fun-living optimistic spirit, the ability of people to enjoy the present (a nice change of pace from riding the daily stress train in France), the gorgeous natural wonders and landscapes, the music, the history, did I also mention the food?, there are other things that make my innate European personality cringe a little. In particular two things. One, how inefficient some things are here and how you absolutely can’t do anything about it no matter how much effort, heart, soul, sweat, tears and French rudeness you’ll put into it. Like the other day when I had to stand in three different lines at a store to buy a notebook – first to choose the notebook design I wished to purchase at the front counter (I paused for a while between Dragon Ball Z, a Twilight theme and a bright barbie-pink floral design, before making up my mind on the latter), then to pay for the notebook at the cash register, and finally to present my receipt and wait for 10 minutes while the clerk tries to find my beautiful bubblegum-colored notebook in the back of the store. You’d think I was buying a Sony flatscreen. I could have had lunch three times in the time it took me to buy that notebook. Sigh number one.
Second, oh my god the drama. It’s endearing at first to see how open people are with expressing their feelings. And then you discover the culprit behind all of it: the novelas. They are terrible – and I’m sure I’m going to lose the few friends I’ve made here just for saying that – , yet I seem to be the only person who doesn’t cry at every episode. Seriously, TMD. Too Much Drama. And this applies to relationships in particular. Case in point: At the gym yesterday, two 20-something BFFs were showering in the two showers adjacent to mine, and I hear one of them squeal in a Picachu voice how today was her 3-week anniversary with a boy we’ll call Juan. Ok, I command myself not to roll my eyes, 3 weeks can be an important step. Moving on. Picachu’s friend asks her if they’ve had a fight yet. “No not really” she replies. Pause. Just you wait for it, I thought. And then she proceeds to tell her friend every little fight Juan and her had in the 504 hours of their romance, including angrily breaking up with each other half a dozen times for the most ridiculous of reasons before tearfully making up. “He said he’d gone out to the store to buy bread but I know he was out at a bar with his friends” she said in self-justification. Sigh number two. I imagined myself pressing a button which would activate a supersized plastic hand that would reach from my shower to hers and slap some common sense into her. Yes exactly, I need to get a TMD slapper. I say this with all the tenderness and affection I have for every culture in South America I’ve had the blessing to live in of course. The drama drives me a little crazy, but mostly it’s pretty funny to witness, especially when you’re like me and you listen into other people’s shower conversations because you can’t possibly mind your own business. Or like when you see full grown men get drunk, sing cheesy romantic karaoke songs and then drunk-dial their ex-girlfriend in tears. Now those would be the best moments to take out the TMD slapper.
Ok but did I mention how much I love the food? Fresh fish and seafood, plantains and yucca, almost anything you want cooked in banana leaves, carne seca, tropical fruit like you’ve never seen before, avocados just falling from the sky. And there’s this one thing that I have only eaten once in my life 4 years ago in Zaruma in Ecuador for breakfast, but that tasted like one of the best thing I could ever imagine existed on Planet Earth. Tigrillo. Cooked green plantains that are mashed, then combined in a pan with butter, soft cheese and scrambled with eggs. Does that not sound like the best thing you could imagine exists on Planet Earth too?? It means little tiger in Spanish, don’t ask me why, I was starving and only interested in eating it on that particular day and sadly I’ve never had the chance to ask about it again because I’ve never seen it again on a menu despite my endless quest to find it. This is a picture we took in Zaruma while waiting for our Tigrillos, me (the brunette with the god-awful hippy bracelets) starving, trying to smile but really just thinking I was so hungry I could eat the table, and on the verge of that Julia-Child-like epiphany.
Anyways it was about time I learned to make it, I mean the supply of plantains here is endless. Oh my, it just tastes better and better every time I make it, and I’ve been making it a looottt in the past 2 weeks. I’ve even tried it with a couple of additions like mashing the plantain with a little butternut squash, adding some bits of bacon or diced sweet potato, it tastes just as tastebud rocking every time. I swear, you will love this. Unless you don’t like plantain, cheese and eggs, in which case I don’t think we can be friends.
Recipe: ‘Tigrillo’ Plantain, Cheese & Egg Scramble
Serves: 1 hungry person
1 green plantain
2 oz. (approx. 60g) of queso fresco (or another firm, mild white cheese like paneer or dry ricotta)
2 Tbsp of butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Avocado slices for serving
1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Peel the plantain by cutting off the ends and slitting the skin lengthwise with a sharp knife and peeling it off with your hands. Cut the plantain into 4-5 medium pieces. Cook the plantain in the boiling water for 20 minutes.
2. Remove the plantain from the boiling water with a slotted spoon but do not discard water, you may need to use some of it. Mash the plantain with a potato masher or a fork.
3. Cut the cheese in small cubes and whisk the eggs in a bowl.
4. Heat butter in a frying pan and add the mashed plantain first. It tends to dry out and become starchy, so just add a few tablespoons of the reserved water to make it softer and help it stick together. Once you have a nice “mush”, add the cheese and cook until it becomes soft, about 2-3 minutes.
5. Move the plantain and cheese mash to the sides of the pan leaving a hole in the middle of the pan. Pour the whisked eggs in the hole and scramble with a spatula for one minute. When the eggs start to scramble but are still creamy, combine them with the rest of the ingredients. Continue to stir until eggs are done. Add salt and pepper to taste.