Alicia García

Alicia García

La admiración por mi padre, fundador de los famosos restaurantes Rancho Luna y El Aljibe, filósofo de la gastronomía y de todo lo relacionado con la vida, me ha permitido valorar la cultura culinaria y gastronómica no solo para deleitarme sino también como un espacio fundamental para entender la esencia humana. Soy cofundadora del Festival Gourmet y autora de varios libros sobre comida cubana.

Photo: Ernesto Brito

La Cueva Taína

Far away from the center of the city of Gibara, in the humble community of El Güirito, live Jorge and Josefa, owners and chefs for six years of a paladar that exhibits decorative elements alluding to the Taino and rural cultures. The rock formation and sculpture of an indigenous man at the façade invites us to enter, as if we were entering a cave that, a few steps away, opens up to welcome the light that illuminates and discovers attributes of rural nature. La Cueva Taína’s specialty is seafood and Cuban cuisine. They include millenary-old foods like the nutritious crab eggs in their budín de caro (expensive pudding) – related to how expensive the price of fritters was for the townspeople, a referent of that soft pudding, of an intense orange color and a delicious flavor -, or the typical freshwater crab meat served in its carapace or over a piece of cassava bread. Its gibareño rice is dry or desgranado (fluffy, as it is said in Cuban homes), yellow, cooked with natural herbs like turmeric and bija and with coquinas -  snails that abound in the coastal zone of Gibara -, fresh fish, shrimps, freshwater crabs and crabs. Another...

Ajiaco Café. Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez.

Cuba’s Flavors

A culinary expert. Daughter of the founder of the famous Rancho Luna and El Ajibe restaurants, she learned from him to value the culinary and food culture not just as a delight but also as a fundamental space to understand the human essence. Cofounder of the Cuban Gourmet Festival. Winner in 2004 of the Special Prize of the Jury in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards for the book about her father: El Aljibe, un estilo natural. Graduated in Gastronomical, Nutritional and Enological Journalism in Cuba. Editor’s note: OnCuba is initiating its section on gastronomic criticism. Given the culinary art’s boom taking place on the island, a phenomenon that is being consolidated and expanding, it has become necessary to find serious, trustworthy and diverse references on where and what we eat and drink and which are the places where we can live a unique experience. There are very few trustworthy sources in Cuba that include this type of information. We will prioritize those spaces that have a notable accent on traditional and contemporary Cuban cuisine. In addition to the analytical text, we will make assessments to appreciate the scales that specify the individual ranking of each restaurant or paladar. Therefore, the...

Photo: Archive

Gastronomy in Cuba, Notes for a Story

There is a notable growing interest in the world about subjects related to the gastronomy of each people, a very important part of their culture. Cuban food also tells its story. In his travel log, Samuel Hazard referred to Cuban food customs: The Inglaterra Hotel and Restaurant, on Prado Street, is also excellent, especially for the gentlemen, since in it they can separately take a room and eat in the a la carte restaurant…. Since what is served at the table, in the major part of the cities, in all the hotels and most of the best private homes, generally belongs to French cuisine, it is only in the rural districts that one can bona fide taste the Cuban dishes…. The daily meals of the humblest of farmers consist of fried pork and boiled rice, in the morning, replacing bread with fried or baked plantain. In the evening they eat beef, jerky, chicken and roast pork, but more usually the meal consists of roasted plantain and the national plate, the ajiaco, which in Cuba is what the meat and vegetable stew is in Spain.1 Since those times until the first half of the 20th century, the cheap restaurants of Cubans...

Illustration by Guillo Moreno

Memories of My Tentempiés: Fortunes and Misfortunes of Contingency Food

During diverse historic periods, contingency food has been a constant in Cuba: providing food for the slaves, the Mambí independence fighters, the farmers, workers, rebel troops, marginal barrios; the search for a solution in extreme circumstances, difficult or restricted like the periods of drought, tropical storms, intense rainfalls, acute economic crises. The generations born in the 1960s and ’70s, throughout the country have a marked influence of the food regimens introduced by the government’s policies at the different levels of the educational system. We perpetuate habits and tastes derived from our experiences in the so-called canteens, in the first levels of education as well as in the following: junior and senior highs (schools in the countryside), as well as in the family options in public and other places. We are not generations with a deep knowledge of general culinary and eating cultures. In our first years of life we were fed, in the sense of nutrition, but with great limitations in the variety of foods and their form of cooking and eating them. The dynamics of the canteens made many of us get used to eating our food with one spoon (big, from soup to dessert), and have inconceivable mixtures...