You don’t actually eat them. They are used as wrappers for cooking or storing food in. When cooked in, they impart a flavour to the food. Whereas corn husks are used for Tamales in Mexico, in Costa Rica banana leaves are used.
They don’t smell like bananas; they actually smell more like straw.
In some cultures, they have also been used as serving plates.
They are sold in large pieces; you cut them down to the sizes you need. Outside of tropical countries, you can buy them frozen from stores such as Asian stores. They will be dark green.
If you get them whole, there is a tough rib in the centre of fresh leaves — cut this out and discard it.
Usually, they are sold in halves. One edge of each half will be tough and fibrous where the rib was. Snip this edge off to make it easier to fold and use the leaves. But save these fibrous strips: you can use them to tie your bundles of food up with.
Rinse them, and cut to the size you need. Some people advise to put them in a pot of hot water and simmer for 15 minutes to make them more pliable to work with. Then drain, let cool, and use. Other people don’t bother with simmering them, Other people say to warm them over a flame to make them more pliable.
Corn husks, parchment paper, waxed paper, greaseproof paper, tin foil.
Banana or plantain leaves can be used interchangeably.