In Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, this woman ran the Guatemala Restaurant on Wilson for 34 years and often sang while she prepared food. She’s slicing plantains (a banana like fruit). Plantains contain high levels of starch and little sugar. They are harvested green and widely used as a cooked vegetable in the tropics. According to her granddaughter, whose mother is in the background preparing the deep fryer, “When the plantain is ripe, sliced diagonally and fried, they’re called ‘patanos fritos.‘ You top it off with a tiny bit of sugar and maybe eat them with some black beans. During frying, the sugars in the plant rise to the surface. Cutting the plantain on a diagonal presents a larger surface for carmelization to occur.
In the Caribbean, (Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba) if you fry the plantain while it’s still green, you call them “tostones.” These are sliced in just an “up-down” fashion, flattened (so they look like a small hockey puck, then fried. They’re topped off with a little bit of salt. In some parts of Puerto Rico they combine ketchup and mayonnaise to create a dipping sauce for the tostones.”