I had reached a point beyond hunger about an hour earlier. Now I was consumed with the pain of what I assumed was my stomach was eating itself for dinner. At Ecolas Restaurant in Astoria, the young woman behind the counter strips a few plantains of their skins and cut them into short stumps, all the while her eyes practically rolling out of her head from boredom. All of her movements seem resentful. She chucks the peels into the garbage with a limp arm, shoves the plantains into the fry-o-lator basket with a thud, and then drops it into the oil. Now there is silence and she shuffles away.
The oil is barely hot. There’s not the faintest sizzle, so these plantains soak it all in, bathing in the warm fat bath, browning slightly but building no crunch whatsoever. A few minutes later, the girl retrieves them and spills them onto the counter, throwing the basket back down without looking. I watch, saliva collecting in the front of my mouth. Her lack of zeal only makes me want it more. She stands the plantains up and, using a small wooden board, leans on them to squash them into discs. Most of them fall over before she leans and end up looking like banana road kill. One of them rolls onto the floor. She looks down at it, sighs, and slowly picks it up and throws it away. It is not replaced.
The plantain coasters get deep-fried once again, this time until they find their golden shells. When they finally reach me, I am half-conscious, but I inhale everything. I can’t recommend much else, but those plantains made me look back at the girl and grin with gratitude. She rolled her eyes.
32-04 36th Ave
(off N stop at 36 Ave)