The Wisdom of the Plantain Chip

In our time together, I have learned many things from Michelle Rothstein, but what is top of mind today is the introduction to plantain chips. As I sit here crunching on this very loud chip, I am reflecting on the relationship wisdom it contains.

A number of months ago, Michelle needed to tackle a health issue and began an elimination diet with fairly extensive food restrictions. Being a serious chip lover and now not being able to eat potatoes, Michelle was determined to find a substitution that eased her loss. Her curatorial research skills led her to experiment with roasting plantains – she’d found her chip substitute.

Working closely with Michelle meant that I was privy to her thoughts and feelings about this plan before it started, and I was there for many meals as she was trying to find her way. The first relationship lesson is the importance of empathy and compassion. I listened, asked questions, validated her experience as she faced the loss of many of her favourite foods. For any food lovers reading this, I’m sure you too can feel her pain! When people around us are struggling, even if the struggle is one they choose and is good for them, it’s still important for us to feel along with them and have compassion for their experience.

When Michelle landed on the plantain chip and shared it with me, I felt her joy; and not only did I feel it, but I shared it back with her.  This was a success and a great moment in what had been so far a ‘blah’ few weeks. Yesterday on the radio I heard an interview with Arthur Aron who was talking about healthy relationships and the importance of celebrating others successes, not just being there in times of difficulty. I was excited WITH Michelle and it made a difference.

And then, I slowly began my own love affair with these crunchy chips. I started making them and each time they were a disappointment.  Realizing the critical importance of using a mandolin, Michelle gave me one as a gift. And then I triumphed. Michelle said ‘the student has surpassed the teacher”.  And that is the final piece of wisdom I see – we are in relationship with others, we have empathy and compassion for them, and we support their successes; however, in the end we also need to bring the lessons back home.  We need to make them our own.  

It feels only right at this point to share the recipe. Enjoy!  

  1. Buy green plantains.  Ripe ones won’t work well.  
  2. Use a mandolin on the first (thinnest) setting.  Watch your fingers!
  3. Put the rounds in a bowl and add one tablespoon of olive oil and some salt. Mix.
  4. Lay out on a baking tray with parchment paper. No overlapping.  The process of laying them out is slow, so don’t start this if you’re in a rush.  Use it as an opportunity to slow down and consider it a ‘plantain meditation’.
  5. Bake for about 20-22 minutes at 350.  Chips should be hard and crispy.
  6. Cool and enjoy with humous or some other dip.

A piece of advice – don’t eat these in quiet places or you will be get ‘the look’ from everyone around you!