Cuba: The Last Words

CubaSince I love tablescapes and food,  it’s not possible to leave Cuba behind without sharing some of both.

CubaBlack beans and rice are staples in the diet and goodness knows I had plenty of those, together with some variation of pork, beef and chicken.

CubaMost lunches were at government owned restaurants with simple foods served family or buffet style.

CubaThe tables were equally as simple with paper napkins and plastic tablecloths.

CubaSoup always preceded the main course, and this one had a secret ingredient which only I got.    The texture  was unappealingly soft, almost mushy, and there was an underlying sweet taste.  Asked what it was, the waiter explained that one plantain was used to flavor the soup and that was it!

CubaEvening meals were generally in lovely privately owned paladars and were a bit more gourmet with special attention given to presentation. 

CubaDon’t you love the look of this salad?  I’m thinking I’ll give it a try at some future dinner gathering.

CubaThe table settings were as attractive as the food presentation.  

CubaCubaCubaSome   were an eclectic mix of dishes, stemware and silverware on crocheted or lace trimmed cloths.  I couldn’t help but wonder if some of these items had been left behind when people fled Cuba as it had the look of having been around for awhile.

CubaOther tables featured wonderful locally made dishes that added a touch of whimsy.   If only I could have figured out how to get some home…….

CubaNo matter where we ate there was always a welcome drink, typically a mojito and every one of them tasted different.  I’m not sure I want another for a while.

With every meal, I couldn’t help but think about how difficult it is for Cubans to get food which made me feel a little guilty for enjoying such variety and abundance.   As mentioned in the first post of this series, most of the food is imported and available on a limited basis.  If I left Cuba hoping for one thing, it was that government owned property would become more available for farming and that people would become interested in growing their own food.    That, to me, would go a long way toward improving the quality of life on this lovely island.

I so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind


Let’s Dish

Tablescape Thursday

Oh the Places I’ve Been

15 thoughts on “Cuba: The Last Words

  1. Lulu, I went back and read about your entire trip to Cuba. What an enjoyable read! I left Cuba in 1969 when I was eleven years old. Even then, only ten years after the revolution at the time, things were already falling apart. I’ve never been back, but I’ve seen the pictures. It’s truly a travesty. I want to add my two cents to your comments: First, the Cuban people are as hard working, intelligent, and entrepreneurial as anyone else. It isn’t a question of encouraging farmers to work the land, rather it’s a question of the government providing the right incentives. It isn’t fair to ask a farmer to toil in the fields with primitive farm equipment, I may add, and then take away the majority of his yield, leaving him with little to show for his work. The present government has made capitalism the enemy and exists by repression. Revolutions cannot occur in places where people are struggling to feed their families. Second, I have no idea what this mushy soup flavored with just bananas could possibly be. It must be either a case of making do with the ingredients they could get a hold of, or perhaps it’s a “Nueva Cocina” recipe. I found your observations so insightful, and it was clear to see that you enjoyed your visit. Thank you for such a delightful narrative!

  2. I love the Cuban restaurant we used to frequent. It was such a joy to read this post and see all the delicious food. That salad arrangement is beautiful and I want to try it too. Love all the preparation. Thanks for sharing your Cuba experience since I don’t think we can get there anytime soon.

  3. Thanks for sharing your experiences in Cuba. I agree with you about the difference in mojitos. I ordered one in Key West and the mint was not tasty, but I love the ones I make.

  4. Appreciate you sharing your wonderful Cuba travel experience! Beautiful photos.

  5. What a difference between restaurants…such beautifully appointed tables at the private ones…the food presentation was so beautiful…love that salad too!…Hope you do try and replicate it…what was the “sauce/dressing” at the bottom of the plate?…

  6. Gosh, Linda…you have really presented a fabulous peek into Cuba! SO interesting!

    I have never understood the reason for oppressing people, let alone starving them. It’s crazy. Giving people an opportunity to do for themselves seems such a natural inclination here in the States.

    Very astute thought re: the mix-match china. Sad thought, too.

    I’ve never been a mojito lover, but I’m sure the first few were fun! I think I’d tire of them after awhile, too! Martinis on the other hand…..! 🙂

    My 4th husband liked to cook with plantain. GROSS!!!!!!!! You couldn’t PAY me to eat it!! The texture IS weird, and the flavor isn’t anything I want anywhere close to my mouth!!!

    Travel safe!

    1. Alycia!! Plantains are DELICIOUS if cooked right (but that’s my opinion, maybe your husband cooked them differently). Fun to see you here!

      I’m so glad, and so sad to read these posts. To see the cars/other modes of transportation that exist now, when I, in my parents’ fancy cars WITH ELECTRIC WINDOWS rode on those very roads…This was once such a progressive and current country Americans loved to visit. It had every comfort and convenience to be had in the US–plus unbelievable natural beauty. To now be a place of hunger (and yet plenty for some), and of rations, and of pictures of Che Guevara plastered everywhere…shame, shame, shame. You and Lulu are right; the dishes could’ve been from OUR house!! And unfortunately, some who still live there do know of another life. “He”/”They” (Castros et al) haven’t been there so long that some wouldn’t still remember the way things were. What they {fortunately} don’t know is how the rest of the world has changed.

      Lulu – thanks for sharing.

      1. I so appreciate your comments regarding Cuba. Seeing the remnants of its former beauty makes me wish I’d seen it, especially Havana, during its heyday.

  7. The Quintessential Magpie Blog March 6, 2014 — 3:27 pm

    Excuse typos… I am on an IPAD.

  8. The Quintessential Magpie Blog March 6, 2014 — 3:26 pm

    I adore Cuban food, but I have never been to Cuba… Though I live in Florida and have traveled throughout the Caribbean. My inlaws spent a month of their honeymoon there, while my parents who were married about 15 years before spent theirs in Mexico.

    I hate to hear that people are hungry, there or anywhere, and I wonder the same thing about the linens. I have friends who lost EVERYTHING during the Revolution and can barely speak of it. My godchildren’s paternal grandfather was born there and left, never to return. I have heard friends speak of the beauty, and I am glad you got to see some of that. My father in laws dying words were to ask my mother in law if she remembered how beautiful and bright the sun was in Havana.

    On a different note, you have me wanting black bean soup. I think I will go. Forage for some!

    Lovely post! Popping in from Susan’s party…



    1. Cuba food generally better in U S than in Cuba!

  9. I love reading about your travels, Lulu, and I’m sorry I haven’t commented on each and every post while you share your trip to Cuba. But my, the food! I think the best part of traveling is trying the local cuisine. I love the presentation with some of these delicious meals. It is such a shame that the food is imported, my daughter felt the same when they were in Aruba.


  10. Love that flower of a salad and those square plates! That is too bad about the food situation there…

  11. Thanks for allowing us to share your experiences in Cuba – most fascinating on many levels.

  12. This has been such a wonderful and eye opening experience for me through your eyes Linda, the whole place is such a series of contrasts, and so sad that it has been stifled for son long. I was fascinated by the wonderful dishes of course, and the elegant plates at dinner. When and where are you going on your next trip??

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