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Posts tagged ‘Cocina Criolla’

Arroz Blanco

Just back from Miami where I spent the last week running for a great cause that was covered here and here, I’m still playing catch up.  Fueled by countless cortaditos, I took advantage of my time there to start research on an upcoming project I’m really excited about, see friends, laugh with my family, and well eat…a lot. Heading to the gate, I had the disorienting feeling that I was leaving home to go home that always comes over me after a long visit.  So while I get my bearings, I wanted to keep it simple with this repost of arroz blanco, including the plaintive email in the comments from my sister who inspired it.

Brought to the table in perfectly rounded mounds with an order of black beans, served in heavy chafing dishes on buffet tables, or ladled out of giant cookers from the kitchen counter, white rice hides in plain sight. Though a staple throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, white rice specifically anchors every Cuban meal. Its primacy partly due to large waves of Chinese immigration, I can’t imagine a better blank slate for beans, shredded beef stews, picadillos and plantains. I probably end almost every post with the words “serve over fluffy white rice” but had yet to include a recipe. When my sister texted me to find out how to make it. Rushed and reluctant to text back, I wondered why she didn’t just look it up here, then I checked and realized it wasn’t on my site. Oops. Read more

Arroz Blanco

Brought to the table in perfectly rounded mounds with an order of black beans, served in heavy chafing dishes on buffet tables, or ladled out of giant cookers from the kitchen counter, white rice hides in plain sight.  Though a staple throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, white rice specifically anchors every Cuban meal.  Its primacy partly due to large waves of Chinese immigration,  I can’t imagine a better blank slate for beans, shredded beef stews, picadillos and plantains.  I probably end almost every post with the words “serve over fluffy white rice” but had yet to include a recipe.  When my sister texted me to find out how to make it.  Rushed and reluctant to text back, I wondered why she didn’t just look it up here, then I checked and realized it wasn’t on my site.  Oops. Read more

Old Clothes/New Beginnings

When I asked my grandmother who’d taught her how to cook, her answer was always “el exilio”. Married in the 40’s and raising children in early 50’s Havana, she was very much a part of a generation that believed every modern convenience was invented to limit their time in the kitchen – a movement that if she hadn’t followed, she would have invented. Then like many women emigrating to Miami and starting over in a new country with less help and fewer resources to feed their families, the one guide they all shared was Nitza Villapol’s Cocina Criolla.

Known as the Cuban Julia Child (if those two things aren’t in fact mutually exclusive), her book became the center of every cuban kitchen in exile, providing a way for them to see their family’s through a difficult transition and begin recreating what they’d left behind. A controversial figure, whenever I have a basic question about Cuban cooking the first suggestion is always to check el libro de Nitza. Reading through it now, I find all kinds of idiosyncrasies. Cubans are unrepentant Francophiles so while they’re french terms sprinkled throughout, there’s an entire section that puts “pie” in quotes and names ingredients by their American brand names. Only available in a slight, paperback edition that looks dog-eared even when it’s new, it’s a popular gift even now for Cuban women who are either getting married or leaving home, whichever comes first. My own copy found me when I was helping to pack my grandmother’s belongings after she’d passed. I was shocked. First, that she owned a cookbook and second that it had clearly been used. Read more

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