ChiflesOne snack you should definitely try during any stay in South America are chifles. You can find them everywhere. The chips are pretty much ubiquitous across the region although they are known by several different names elsewhere including "tostones" or "'mariquitas."
They look like fried slices of banana but they are actually made from Plantains - a hard, starchy type of banana. These are usually green, are not sweet and must be cooked. It has an almost potato-like texture and taste which makes frying it in a chip a no-brainer.
To sample them correctly you need to buy them from a streetcorner vendor. These are a must for any bus ride - just hang out the window before taking off and buy one from the ladies selling them below you. For some reason the ones made in the north of Peru, particularly in the department of Piura, taste best.
Peel the plantains by cutting off both ends and slicing through the skin from end to end on the outside of the curve of the fruit and again on the inside of the curve. Slide your thumb beneath the slice and try and pull the skin away in two sections. It will be sticky but, since you are frying, do not use water to simplify the process.
Watch out for the sticky sap released by the peel, it will stain clothing as well as red wine.
Fill a heavy skillet with .25 inch of oil and heat over a medium-high flame.
Using a simple mandolin, slice the plantains as thin as possible (the thinner, the better). When the oil is hot, add a handful of plantain slices. Stir with a slotted spoon to keep the slices from sticking to each other and allow to fry completely.
Remove from the oil when golden and crisp. Place on a plate lined with paper towels to dry. Sprinkle with salt.
When all the plantains are fried, add the corn kernels and fry until hard and cracked. Remove and let dry.
Mix together in a large bowl and serve.
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