Coverage of me and other train wrecks: my mama, subway nut jobs, sex and the environment.


Cuban Christmas Food

Wow. It’s been a really long time since the last blog post. Woops!

In the interim, I’ve went to Miami. I was there for the Holy Days, staying with mama. She made tons of food and fretted about it all the time. What is it with Cuban mothers? They’re just like Jewish mothers. You’re either too skinny or too fat, and I fall into the too skinny so every female in my family tries to stuff me silly full of turrón, flan, beans, rice, chicken in all it’s forms: as a fried cutlet, grilled, bbq’ed, ground and stir fried as hash, or (my favorite) braised in a wine sauce.

And oh the roots! We eat our body weight in starch every day. Cubans love roots, we call them viandas, and every meal comes with a side dish of viandas. Yuca with garlic. Boniato, which is like sweet potato, only less sweet and white instead of orange, and is fried or boiled. Güawí (that’s the phonetic spelling), which is nutty and creamy.

Mama made güawí fritters that were sweet and had anis seeds in them. They were crispy creamy deliciousness—better than doughnuts. I was having them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, whatever. She also made black-eyed pea fritters that were mouth-watering and she made plenty of plantains, which she fried, boiled, mashed, refried, turned into chips—any way that plantains could be prepared, she prepared them.

One night for dinner everything on my plate was fried except the black beans. I had rice with black beans, fried chicken, fried yuca, fried plantains, and fried buñuelos. Buñuelos are these pretzel-shaped donuts made from a root-based dough, served with an anis-seed syrup. They’re so good and creamy.

The other great thing about Cuban holidays are the treats you get to eat all day long. Turrón, for example, is a kind of nougat that comes in many different forms. Inevitably, there are nuts in turrón. Usually almonds and hazelnuts. Always super sweet. There are also dried figs, dates, and salted cashews. Usually there's also a big pile of shelled walnuts and hazelnuts that you pick at but you have to use the shell-cruncher (what's the official name? Nutcracker?) and then pick off the shell before you enjoy the nutty yumminess.

The last thing: fresh pineapple juice. Mama pressed it herself and added NOTHING else to it. It was sweet and light and refreshing all on its own. Okay one more: fresh Florida avocados. These things are like five haas avocados put together. They are huge and such a vibrant, light green--ugh! Again, creamy. Creamy is Cuban.

Okay. Enough about food. I’ll post again a story about mama or papa or both and promise to have you staring at the screen wide-jawed at the absurdity of my parents soon. Till then.....

Oh, by the way, if you're in New York City and want some delicious, authentic Cuban food, my top choice is Margon Restaurant. It's a hole-in-the-wall on 46th street between 6th and 7th Avenues, and is cheap and delicious. It's not a fancy restaurant in the least, and it reminds me so much of my family in Miami. Try it out.

Oh, by the way # 2: the picture is of yuca with garlic--yum!