While watching the sprightly movie ‘Chef’ I became nostalgic for Cuba. The movie had plenty fervor, family, and delicious meals. In ‘Chef”, Carl Casper was a dissatisfied head chef at a high-end restaurant where his inability to excel was in the hands of a dead set restaurant owner. Only after his social media melt down Chef Carl Casper found joy and creativity in starting food truck – offering authentic Cuban food.
I enjoyed the movie and I, Teri, think you should go see it!
I read a few reviews about ‘Chef’ and how the movie made people really want Cuban food; I could not help but to think back to my dining experiences in Cuba and how sadly dissatisfied my taste buds were. What Cuban bits were they lusting after that I didn’t find in Cuba?
It was the Cubano! The Cuban pressed sandwich. Why didn’t anyone tell me that sandwich was all the craze? Is it because I am from Michigan and not Florida?
Speaking of Florida and the Cubano:
Apparently, there is a Cuban Sandwich Crisis between Tampa and Miami. Each city wants to claim the sandwich as its own. Even after reading article after article – Cuba does not get much recognition for it being a Cuban sandwich after all. Reflecting back to the conversations I had with Cubans in Cuba about Cuban-Americans I can see why they feel the way they do. My conversation were never deep enough to get a sheer understanding – because I tried to avoid talking politics.
Between destinations on the Viazul bus in Cuba – stops allowed passengers to buy food. With every stop I got a Cuban sandwich. I thought it was just a standard and delicious ham sandwich. I had no idea that this pressed $2.50 sandwich was THEE CUBANO. If I had known that this sandwich was a thing [and would be featured in a movie] I would have taken a photo of it! I am really disappointed in myself.
When ordering my sandwich at a stop between Habana to Varadero I had an inquiry about my accent. French, Asian, and Canadian accents surrounded me – and my server thought mine stood out. So, he wanted to know where I was from.
Server: Where are you from?
Server: Really? From U.S.A…in Cuba?
Me: Si! (Because that was the only Spanish word I felt really comfortable saying besides, “quantos”!) And, I think your country is lovely.
Server: I’m glad you like; not lot of Americans.
Me: I haven’t met any.
Server: ::Smiles & Nods:: Come again.
Me: I will.
I took, what I didn’t know was THEE Cubano, back to the bus and ate it.
Every meal I had in Cuba was a reality check for my taste buds. My expectations for Cuban cuisine were very high and I was sad that I had “not-so-tasty-bits”. At breakfast they always gave me SO MUCH bread, a bowl of fruit, Mamey juice, sometimes a scrambled egg, tea, and a glass of (faucet) water. Yes, I did drink the tap water in Cuba because I read it was safe. They were also surprised that I preferred tea to coffee.
Dinnertime was interesting. One evening I had dinner with a girl from Sweden staying in the room next to me. I had shrimp, rice, and beans…that had hair in it. I expressed to my new friend that there was hair in my food and she told me to get used to it. She had been in Cuba for three months and it was not uncommon to have hair in your food. She also advised me NOT to eat the pizza. Of all the folks I met, no one said they had a delicious meal in the country.
Here is some of what I had for dinner:
Every thing considered I am not a foodie, I just like tasty bits. With exception to the food, Cuba was amazing. The hospitality extended to me was very warm. My hosts were very accommodating and when asked what time I wanted to eat…the food was ready then.
Cuba is a beautiful country that I intend to return to – just not for the cuisine!