I get the sense that I will be experiencing things ‘Cuban’ to a larger extent during my stay, and not just on our trip to Havana after New Years. I’m very happy about that.
We started on our first night in town with a meal at a rustic seafood restaurant on the river, Garcia’s, owned by Cuban fishermen – now wealthy men! The crab claws that I always associate with Miami were delicious. I was also introduced to a hot ‘media noche’ Cuban sandwich of ham, roast pork, cheese, pickle and mustard on sweet bread at Sergio’s. This Cuban American restaurant started as a place for truck drivers but works now with a different immigration group of people mainly from Central America.
Of course, my trip here would not be complete without a visit to the famous Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana, the venue for all Presidents at some stage of the campaign trail – traditional chicken and rice with fried bananas and black beans was the fare of the day. And then there was Joey’s in the most dangerous part of Miami where we got lost and I insisted we lock the doors of the car . . . . Apparently, Edmundo does not frequent five star restaurants, or perhaps he is showing me ‘life in the city’.
I joined him this morning for my first training session with his Cuban émigré trainer, Osmani, down in the gym of the building. This guy tried twice to row to the US from Cuba and was caught and beaten, before eventually ending up in the US via Venzuela about three years ago. When we go to Cuba, his best friend there will be our guide. How much easier it is to train when the trainer hands you the weights and takes them away at the end of each routine. I think Lee used to do this when B Firm was in its infancy and I didn’t appreciate it.
I think I might be in strife with Edmundo for upsetting the ‘hierarchy’ of the household! This morning, Anna the trusty Guatemalan maid of 20 years brought some Cuban croqueta de jamon and invited me to share with her and Regina with a cup of café con leche in the kitchen. These warmed ham croquettes in crusty Cuban bread were so delicious. Edmundo is concerned that my engaging the women in conversation is stopping them from doing their housekeeping duties!
On Christmas Eve we are going to Edmundo’s cousin’s house here for a typical Cuban Christmas dinner celebration. The cousin has written several cook books and she is doing one on Cuban ‘cuisine’ of old. They’ll be cooking a pig in the ground with all the trimmings.