We sample the jibarito, a Puerto Rican sandwich with fried plantains for bread. : Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! On this Sandwich Monday, we try the jibarito, a sandwich with fried plantains in place of bread.
NPR logo Sandwich Monday: The Mighty Jibarito

Sandwich Monday: The Mighty Jibarito

Image of pork jibarito

Long before Colonel Sanders replaced bread with fried chicken, a man who had no bread but a whole lot of bad judgment did the same thing with deep-fried plantains. He sandwiched them around steak, American cheese, and an obscene amount of mayonnaise, and the jibarito was born. Some say this happened in Puerto Rico, some say at Borinquen Restaurant in Chicago. Wherever its origin, let's just agree the inventor should be worshipped as a God.

I ordered one with roast pork. Girlfriend Nora went with the vegetarian. Here's how that went:

Nora: "I'll have the vegetarian jibarito."

Waiter: "One steak jibarito, coming up."

Nora: "No, vegetarian."

Waiter: "What?"

Image of painting of jibarito.

When you go to a restaurant, sometimes it can be hard to decide what to order. Here's a rule: if a restaurant has an oil painting of one of their sandwiches on the wall, you should order that sandwich.

Nora: It took a special kind of culinary genius to come up with this. Who sees a plantain, and thinks, you know what, that'd be better with pork and mayonnaise?

Ian: If you're a banana, and you want to disappoint your parents, this is the life you choose.

The vegetarian version. NPR hide caption

toggle caption

Ian: So the vegetarian sandwich is just the regular sandwich without the regular stuff?

Nora: I think they replaced some of the meat with more mayonnaise.

Our totally unecessary side dish. NPR hide caption

toggle caption

We also ordered mofongo, which is a mashed plantain ball with bits of garlic and pork cracklings. Delicious, yes, but sort of like having an already digested version of your sandwich right next to your sandwich.

You say it's hot sauce. I say it looks like where turtles live. NPR hide caption

toggle caption

We ride our bikes home, and both of us find our hands are slippery on the handlebars. "Ah, mayonnaise," Nora says. "Nature's moisturizer."

This is the last thing you see before you get fat. NPR hide caption

toggle caption

I think for a second that the bike ride will help work off the meal. But we would have to ride all the way to Puerto Rico to burn all the calories, and I would almost certainly end up eating another jibarito when I got there.

Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!