I don’t remember having currants – red, black, or otherwise – growing up, so I was surprised to find them in one of the older Cuban cookbooks I’d been using, Delicias de las Mesa by Maria Antonieta Reyes Gavalán. Written in the 1920s, I came across it at University of Miami’s Cuban Heritage Collection. While most other Cuban cookbooks date from the mid-fifties when everyone was only too happy to embrace cans and convenience, Gavalán’s book captured an earlier time, referencing ingredients and techniques that had fallen out of use but worth reconsidering. The book itself was so worn and frayed that it couldn’t be scanned or photocopied, so I spent most of my time in the archives furiously taking notes before reluctantly giving it back. It was complete coincidence when my aunt Marta called from New Orleans to tell me her friend had given her a copy of the book and could I use it. Read more
Posts from the ‘Recipes’ Category
I think my relationship with New York is steady enough that I can admit we’d recently hit a rough patch. I’d spent so much time away last year that it felt like I was living consecutive winters. It wore me down and I took it out on the city that had become all work. Now that we’re having this beautiful summer, every day comes closer to New York’s song-and-dance ideal and I’m in love again. I even gave in and bought a new bicycle -albeit one that is technically older than I am – a copper colored Schwinn Suburban step-through with an honeywood basket. It’s heavy, impractical and my favorite thing in the world right now. Read more
I’ve never been one for meat and potatoes. I rarely go for the steak frites on frenchified Smith Street and I’m as interested in the sides as the slabs of beef served at steakhouses. While I believe hamburger cravings should always be heeded because absolutely nothing else will satisfy, my own burger attacks are few and far between. Still there are exceptions when I really do love red meat: 1) when my mother who is a genius with a Costco steak and open flame grills for us at home (post to come later) and 2) Argentinian-style churrasco drizzled with chimichurri sauce. Read more
Some posts take longer to write. That’s how it was with these capitolios – vanilla cupcakes topped with meringue, dipped in chocolate, and shaped like Havana’s Capitol building (hence the name). Our parents used to buy them for my sister and I and for years she’d been asking me to make them. Since her birthday falls in May, she always plans something outside and this year she chose a spot under the Brooklyn Bridge and next to Jane’s Carousel for a picnic. I had no idea what to bring when she reminded me that I’d never gotten around to the capitolios. Read more
I keep coming across lists of things I’m not supposed to like. If I do – which is often the case – then I’m from Florida/Brooklyn, varying degrees or white/latino/other, basic or a hipster. The hipster lists really sting because they’re typically include favorite food trends – but then who doesn’t love bacon, green juice is good for you, and mason jars are very practical. I was considering making my own yerba mate-flavored soda when I saw homemade soda listed as a repeat offender and felt very much caught in the act. Read more
The recent signs of spring are so small that, if I wasn’t desperate, I might not have noticed them at all. A little more light, a little later in the day, and I’m a completely different person. Once a layer comes off, I find it impossible to put it back on. Even with the frequent temperature drops, I stubbornly leave my gloves at home and my puffy coat is not coming out again until next year. All of which leaves me cold but determined. I’m also taking advantage of the break in the weather to enjoy my neighborhood in a way that I haven’t for a very, very long time. I reference Brooklyn in my posts often but the changes in the last few years can sometimes feel like a cautionary tale about getting everything you wish for.
Last year I took what felt like a slightly selfish trip to New Orleans. My excuse was book research, so I decided beforehand not to post or take too many pictures. It felt like if I stopped to post or take a picture every time I saw something beautifully strange or strangely familiar in New Orleans, I’d do little else. Strange because it’s a city so completely itself that it makes you come all the way there to experience it and familiar because I’d always heard stories from my family about New Orleans when it was a short jump from Havana. There were so many parallels that it wasn’t surprising that so many of my relatives settled there when they left Cuba in the 1960s. Read more
This past December, I went home to Miami earlier – for Art Basel – and stayed later – for Christmas – then I usually do. I was coming back to a cold, gray winter, so any time spent inside felt like a missed opportunity – as though I could somehow store the sun in my skin and the colors in my eyes to get through the next few months. I put together a too-ambitious list of places I wanted to go but was still surprised when I couldn’t get through it all – though what I did see, I loved. Read more
I first met Leticia Moreinos Schwartz at a seminar at the International Culinary Center. Perched in the front row with a well-prepared list of questions and samples for the class, she would have been intimidating if she wasn’t so incredibly nice. We’ve stayed in touch since and she’s always quick to answer my questions and offer much needed guidance and advice. Her first book, The Brazilian Kitchen, is full of unfailing recipes and her personal insight into Brazilian cuisine and has become a favorite. Less familiar to me than other Latin American traditions, Brazilian food has been a blind spot though I’m always happy when I make the effort. Her latest, My Rio de Janeiro: A Cookbook, tells an even more personal story of both the carioca home cooking she grew up with and the contemporary Brazilian cuisine she encounters on frequent trips home.