Putting on her “brave face,” 7-year-old Ella Philpot stuck a plastic fork squarely through a plantain and took a bite.
After chewing a bit, Ella scrunched up her face and put down her fork. Although she likes to try new foods, the plantain served Tuesday at Gullett Elementary School, as part of Hispanic Heritage Month, did not pass the test.
“I like bananas,” said Ella, referencing the fruit plantains are most commonly likened to. “I don’t eat a lot of fried stuff.”
Each Tuesday during Hispanic Heritage Month, cafeterias in the Manatee County School District are serving up different types of Hispanic cuisines for students. While many students are familiar and excited about “Taco Tuesday,” some other items, like the plantains, are a little more mysterious to many pupils.
The Manatee County School Board proclaimed Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 as Hispanic Heritage Month at a recent meeting.
In addition to the plaintains Tuesday, Gullett served up both hard and soft shell tacos, refried beans and spicy nacho bites. Lunch staples, including deli sandwiches, salads, cottage cheese and crackers, fruit and yogurt parfaits and assorted fruits and vegetables, help round out the day. Nicole Camann, the cafeteria manager, serves a lot of vegeterian students at Gullett, so she tries to make sure there is a variety of options.
“These are nacho bites, they’re a little spicy,” she called out to a student Tuesday as she ladled some bites onto his plate.
The nacho bites were a hit with a lot of students, including a trio of kindergarteners. Abraham Rojas passed on the bites Tuesday in favor of tacos, but classmates Caleb Dine and Dominic Reddick finished their portions quickly. Dominic said they weren’t too spicy, but he washed down each bite with juice.
“It’s the peppers,” Abraham said, explaining why the nacho bites were spicy. “I like peppers.”
Cheese was king with the older students, as fifth-graders raved about the cheesy refried beans and the cheese in the spicy nacho bites.
“I liked the little bits. They taste exactly like cheese,” said 10-year-old Katie Purcell.
Down the row, 10-year-old Ethan Burlingame raved about his “tasty” refired beans, but he had a warning for those who indulged too much.
“Cheese makes you constipated,” he said, to laughs from the table.