Immigrant brings the best of his country to this country
When I was in third or fourth grade, just starting to learn about the founding of the United States, I read that the United States is referred to as The Great Melting Pot.
My history books described how people from all over the world had come here to make their fortunes or to escape misfortune and been assimilated into the culture, then into the population itself.
Immigration comes about for a variety of reasons: persecution, famine and war drive some people out of their homelands. Others relocate for business or financial opportunity, because other family members have moved, or to live in a more pleasant climate.
From the Pilgrims who founded Massachusetts Colony in 1620, to the Irish immigration that started in 1845 as a result of the potato famine, to the Latinos and others who are coming now, North America has long attracted people from all over the world. Twelve million immigrants passed through the facility on Ellis Island alone between 1892 and 1954.
The story of immigration in the United States was a compelling subject to study in school, but seemed very far away from my life growing up outside Philadelphia, Boston and Pensacola, Florida. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I lived in a community with and came to know people who had ethnic backgrounds very different from mine, some of whom came from other parts of the world. (Actually, I found out I was somewhat of a novelty to them also.)
Immigrants, from the Europeans who founded the original colonies to the Asians, Africans, and South Americans who came after have made this country strong and diverse. Two of my dearest friends, my cousin’s son-in-law and my husband came to America from other countries. They brought with them their own cultures and ways of living and we have taught each other many things over the years.
Just two days ago, my cousin’s son-in-law Hassane did his family and his adopted country the great honor of taking the oath of citizenship to become a United States citizen. Hassane, whose native language is French, tested in English.
Today’s recipe is with Hassane’s native country of Niger in mind. Plantains, which are very much like bananas, are enjoyed throughout Africa and India.
They are becoming more popular all the time in the United States, and are found in the produce section of most large grocery stores.
3 ripe plantains (find them with the bananas)
1/4 cup butter, diced
1 large orange (use juice and zest)
3 tablespoons rum, if desired
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup whole or sliced almonds
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 fresh mint sprigs
6 generous tablespoons Crème fraiche
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Peel plantains and cut them in half lengthwise. Arrange halves in an ovenproof dish. Dot with butter. Spoon on orange juice and rum, if using.
Mix orange zest, cinnamon and brown sugar in a bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over the plantains.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until plantains are very soft and the sugar has melted into the orange juice to make a sauce.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet, saute almonds in oil until golden. Sprinkle finished plantains with almonds.
Garnish with mint sprigs and serve with crème fraiche.
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.