A Postcard from Havana • My First Trip to Cuba • Making Friendships through Food

Greetings desde Havana! This entry will be like a really long postcard, a brief, but general update on my first visit to Cuba.  I've been journaling a bunch but haven't had the chance to use the internet much.  The days are just packed. I'm busily working away on cookbook content. I'm cooking nearly everyday with chefs and home cooks in my apartment at times, around the city in various other kitchens.  I’m learning a tremendous about about food, and the Cuban way of cooking- clearly. How to source what, what to buy when and why certain foods are more available than others.

Thankfully, It hasn’t been challenging to connect with collaborators. People are extremely welcoming and it's been very fun exchanging kitchen traditions, and learning their stories through home cooked favorites. I brought a few copies of the previous book to show and to gift that has been a great tool to explain the current project.

I’ve had the chance to take some short overnight trips.  When this first chapter is all over, I will have seen most provinces in the western half of the island. Aside from from Havana, (my home base) I’ve traveled to the gorgeous Viñales and Pinar del Rio, enjoyed the beaches of Varadero, and stayed in nearby town of Matanzas. Next week I’ll be heading to Cienfuegos, Santa Clara, and Trinidad. 

The timing of my trip here has truly been magical; to witness Obama’s visit and reaction of the Cuban people has been so special. Truly historic. We saw his motorcade twice, standing on the streets in old town Havana, and experienced the happiness of the locals dancing in the streets. I’ve caught the live broadcasts the Obama coverage in cafes and in the homes of my Cuban neighbors too.  Mosy of the people I’ve been speaking to are content about the prospects for change (for economic reasons first and foremost). 

As for the cookbook, I feel like I have a great amount of content that is authentic and diverse. I’ve intentionally gathered some more salad recipes, and have now had first hand experience cooking many of the classics. I also have content for more supplemental info too: explanation about viandas (root veggies) that are so foundational in the diet, a spread about coffee service, some info about food with regards to Santeria, the age old religion derivative of Africa.  I’ve also learned some supplemental recipes that were surprising to me including ‘garapiña' a drink that is made with peel of the piña~ here's the art, recipe and more text to come.