Looking back over a previous post, I spoke of how Cuba has a story to share: mystery, romance, and political schisms. I am a sucker for a great mystery! Reading a mystery, I can figure out “who dunnit” faster than anyone I know. It frustrates my family terribly. It has gotten to the point that my kids now ask me ahead of time who the guilty one is or who murdered who. Nine times out of ten, I get it right. Don’t ask me how. Maybe it’s because I tend to look in the least obvious places or pick up on cues that no one else noticed.
Cuba is sort of like that. I look in places that no one else picks up on. See for me, Cuba is a place of mystery. I want to know who, why, and how. For example, what will happen for Cubans after Castro? I think that is the million dollar question.
What I do know already is what happened to a sweet couple who lived on the cusp of the Cuban Revolution (the parents of a friend of mine). It is a story that would probably sound very familiar to many Cubans. Fidel takes over as the country’s leader and personal private property is stripped away. It was the anniversary of a couple who shared a desire to make the world a bit sweeter through work in their own bakery in Cuba. On the day of their anniversary, it was getting late in the day and the wife wondered why her husband was taking so long to come home. She thought perhaps that he was picking up flowers for her. She was getting worried, because in those days no one was sure from one day to the next what the government might be up to. She decided to take a drive to their bakery in their 1950’s Chevrolet – the kind of car you still see in pictures of Cuba. She noticed an officer in the bakery when she arrived, and she approached him, asking if everything was alright. Her husband responded, telling her that the government was there to take the bakery. They could no longer own the property and while they were at it, they decided to take the car too. Unfortunately, the story was not uncommon for those days; a lifelong dream-vanished in a matter of moments.
For many today, it is a waiting game for Cubans, and no one knows what the next chapter will reveal. “It feels that the end of the story has not been written. Nobody knows what is going to happen and that is unsettling,” said Daniel Erikson, a Cuba expert at the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based think- tank. Over the past weeks, as I have been reading about Cuba, digging for some nuggets of gold to share, I sometimes come away disheartened. But there are other times that I can see a silver lining. It’s hard to tell how Cubans feel. My Cuban friend will tell you that her parents sometimes cry when they think of how it used to be. I can’t imagine how that must feel. I also am aware that the regime before Castro was not without its own set of problems either. If you want to read a little more about the Cuban’s daily struggle to survive, here is a link that may help: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/01/fidel-castro-raul-castro
So – let me move on to a mystery I CAN solve. Cubans know how to cook, and as they say in the south, they know how to “throw down.” One of my new success stories was “Grandmother’s Chicken Soup- Cuban Style;” it literally was a culinary balm that helped my sick daughter to feel better. Can a person have an aroma memory? Somehow I can still smell it long after the last spoonful was eaten. Grandmas, no matter where they are from, have a way of making you feel better; who can’t remember some kind of chicken soup from Grandma? And everyone knows that if Grandma made it, it is good for what ails ya. Here is a picture of the soup and other Cuban meals I prepared this month. Only look if you are not hungry!!