Dear Doctor M,
What is the difference between a banana and a plantain?
Mr. Musa Crop
The plantain, while related to the banana, is a much starchier, less-sweet variant. More like a potato that just happens to be shaped like a banana. Or, if you prefer, a banana that happens to taste like rice.
A raw plantain is too fibrous and starchy to enjoy much. Cook it though, and it can be quite tasty. The longer it ripens the sweeter it becomes as the starch becomes sugar. They're best to cook when they're almost black. They're quite nice to grill because, even when they're very ripe, they hold their shape well.
How do you tell a banana from a plantain? That's easy - they're labeled. Must happen right on the tree. Amazing.