Sunday, April 6, 2008

Let's Talk Turkey with a Papaya Glaze

Anita Snow's been in Cuba too long. She's got a food fixation. First she goes on the "ration book diet" and now goes into orgies of delight over a few of the surviving paladars in this article. Bet you think I'm going to carry on about how Cubans don't have enough to eat, or about how paladars were essentially put out of business when the regime latched on to the Venezuelan sugar teat, or even point out that one of the paladars which belongs to the gentleman, a Spaniard, who interviewed John McCain is in front of a big white mansion. But no, I want to talk food.

Miamians have much to answer for in terms of the Floribbean trend they've helped foist on the rest of us. Now any second rate chef thinks he's a new age Escoffier. The result is apparent in Sarasota where mango chutney has been sent into places it was never meant to go. Once, I ordered the pecan-encrusted veal with a reduction of Pear liquor which turned out to be a veal cutlet in a pecan pancake laced with syrup, undeniably the worst meal I have ever eaten, nearly vomitous. Take a gander at some of the dishes highlighted in the report: Tuna steak grilled with sugar cane, pork medallions with a mango glaze, and, one of my personal favorites, rabbit lasagna.

True she does point out that most of the paladars do not offer such sophisticated fare and are very flexible, using Swiss chard when there is no spinach for the salad and milk when there is no cream for the pumpkin soup. Spinach? Pumpkin soup? I must have grown up in a very atypical Cuban home, because spinach was what Popeye ate. Salad was just a prop you put on the table to punch up the appearance of the real food, and it inevitably consisted of crackly iceberg lettuce, tomato, and radishes. As for pumpkin soup, I guess you could say we had it in our Ajiaco.

Read it, and read all about Beverly Cox, author of Eating Cuban, who went to the island twice to do research. I wonder if she included my Cuban family's recipe for making Chicken Fried Grapefruit Rinds, cubed steak being a dim memory?

Cross-posted at Babalublog

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