I have Spring Fever! Although, there is no denying that winter is one of my favorite times of the year – sitting by a “real” fireplace with “real” logs that my husband likes to keep going all winter; drinking lots of coffee and hot tea; curling up with a good book; watching a great movie; there is only so much that I can do of that. The saying “There’s a season for everything under the sun” has some real meaning and winter has seasoned out for me.
This last week really kicked in for Cuban cooking. I have been cooking like crazy and there is still so much to cook and February is the shortest month to do all that I want to do. I have more places to “see” and “experience” in Cuba. There is no denying it – when I tell people that I am cooking Cuban all month, there is a story about Cuba to share. The food is nothing short of superior. I thought leaving the food and culture of India last month would be hard, and for a few days it was. I am now most certain that I not ready to leave Cuba.
Last week for Fat Tuesday I made a special meal. Of course, all of this was in preparation for the season of Lent. Lent is the Christian season (40 days prior to Easter) of preparation before Easter and the day after Shrove Tuesday (termed Fat Tuesday-Mardi Gras festival- in New Orleans). Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, and spiritual discipline. For our Fat Tuesday, in preparation for a spirit of observance, I made Chuletas de cerdo al estilo Cubano (Cuban Style Pork Chops), Maduros y Tostones ( fried sweet and green plantains), Arroz amarillo (yellow rice), ensalada criolla (creole salad), pan de boniato (Cuban white sweet potato bread), arroz con leche (rice pudding), mojitos and Cafe Cubano con leche (Cuban coffee with milk).
Take a peak at my meal:
We could not let this day pass without at least trying the tropical drink Mojito. We had one while vacationing in Puerto Rico (this trip was a real vacation), but not having one whilst cooking Cuban for the month of February- well- that’s not really experiencing Cuba. Cubans will tell you that this spring like drink’s birthplace is Cuba. A favored drink of many Cubans, the mojito is made with rum, white cane sugar, lime juice, mint and lemonade. Ernest Hemingway chose this fresh citrusy cocktail as his elixir of choice. Ernest Hemingway who authored Old Man and the Sea made Cuba his home for 20 years. If you can remember back from high school days, his book is about a Cuban fisherman and his experience with life, the sea and a big fish. The underlying theme of the story is one about hope and victory regardless of life’s circumstances. I think that Mr. Hemingway, sitting with a mojito in hand, could have believed this about the Cuban in his day, that no matter if the circumstances seem dire (like the fisherman in the story) there is still hope and promise. A great attitude not only for the Cubans but for all of humanity.
Cuba is my season. I am very excited about this week’s menu. It is my last week and I am hoping to blog about the community gardens of Cuba and especially about the hope and promise that is evident in Cubans even if the circumstances seem calamitous. Come along and join me as I have a fever for Cuba and all things hot.
Menu for the week:
Piono – Sweet Plantain and Beef Cakes
Arroz con Pollo – Cuban Style Flavored Chicken Rice
Asopado de mariscos – Seafood Stew
Masitas de cerdo fritas – Fried Pork Chunks
Ropa vieja – Stewed Shredded Beef