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
When my last and final book deadline came and went this month, I found myself heading back to Miami again for the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. Now one of the largest in the country, the festival is essentially held in my own backyard though I’d never gone down for it before. After interviewing a few of the chefs who’d be participating for The Latin Kitchen, I was excited to be there for the event itself but had not idea what to expect. 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.
For years, I’ve heard about the Puerto Rican families gathering in the kitchen during their endless Christmas season to make pasteles and felt a little jealous. Researching and writing about them for Devour felt like a lonely way to go about making what should be a communal recipe. To fill the kitchen, I consulted my cousins and aunt for the traditions surrounding Puerto Rican Christmas, my friend Carmen Rivera whose husband insisted raisins should only be optional, and my market friend Arelys Ocasio who suggested I throw in plantains to the usual blend of guineos and yautia. Jump to Devour to read more. Read more