Years ago, I went on the Irish Pub tour of Europe. Did you know there is an Irish Pub in Heidelburg or another pres de la Madaleine (at least that's what I told the Iranian cab driver in Paris in my just good enough French-that is just good enough for the Iranian cab driver to find it)? Well, this little jaunt started out as a trip to St. Augustine. Please note the landmark at left, complete with pigeon.
Anyway, we stumble upon not one, not two, but three Cuban cigar shops, not where they sell Cuban cigars because that would be illegal and immoral, although they are Cuban cigars because the shop where we end up buying has a young Cuban man rolling them before your very eyes. Behind the counter is a black and white picture of a young boy rolling cigars in Cuba. It is according to the caption the young man's father at age twelve. I found the leaf a little harsh, but I'm no connoisseur. It did, however, smell marvelous. This I know because the hubster, not Cuban, went native on me.
Nothing would do but that we eat at the Cuban cafe we also found in St. Augustine. I suspect that the abundance of food for a reasonable price might have played a large part in his sudden affinity for my heritage. The food was quite good, although as I pointed out to the South American waiter that my rather tasty Cuban sandwich would have been greatly improved by the addition of at least one slice of pork, as that is one of the defining ingredients in the above named sandwich.
So now we're driving down the A1A. He's puffing on the stogie. We're both admiring forgotten Florida (more on that later). We continue the Cuban Heritage trail with a side trip to the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona which has an absolutely fabulous exhibit of the Ramos Collection, entitled "Great Masters of Cuban Art: 1800 to 1958." If you have the opportunity to see it, do it. I don't know that much about art, but I am something of a museum maven. Take my word for it. It is open until September 1, having been extended.
Mind-boggling. Hubby asks of one painting, "If you didn't know, how could you tell it was Cuban? It looks like the stuff from Europe." Bingo. The exhibit gives the lie to that fallacy that we were third world natives. Not to mention, there is a moment of immense satisfaction that this is a portion of our heritage the s.o.b.s will not be able to steal or erase, as they have erased all the accomplishments BC in the Western mind. I am so moved by the whole experience, I purchase the book for $24.95.
So as we leave the museum, I'm just about Cubaned out. I'm thinking we'll stop somewhere I can get some turkey or roast beef, when we pull into this strip mall in Cocoa Beach where there just happens to be a Cuban cafe called "La Tinaja" with a roguish young Venezuelan waiter named Josue. After a tasty and affordable meal of masitas de puerco frita with arroz and frijoles negros and platanos maduros, I say "enough."
By the way, did you know that Siesta Key in Sarasota started out as a Cuban fishing camp? Scout's honor.