Taste of Old Cuba: More Than 150 Recipes for Delicious, Authentic, and Traditional Dishes

Taste of Old Cuba: More Than 150 Recipes for Delicious, Authentic, and Traditional Dishes

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by Maria Josefa O'Higgins

An evocative feast for all the senses, A Taste of Old Cuba combines a Cuban expatriate's charming and vivid memories of a childhood on the idyllic island before Castro's revolution with more than 150 recipes for delicious, authentic, and traditional Cuban dishes.  See more details below


An evocative feast for all the senses, A Taste of Old Cuba combines a Cuban expatriate's charming and vivid memories of a childhood on the idyllic island before Castro's revolution with more than 150 recipes for delicious, authentic, and traditional Cuban dishes.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
When reading de O'Higgins's first cookbook, evocative prose seems to bring a distant Cuba back to life. Thanks to a lifelong love of Cuban food and devotion to her extended family, O'Higgins never lost touch with her Caribbean roots: she was raised there in the 1920s and '30s. With a sensibility that is responsive to both the flavors of food and the feelings that accompany meals remembered, the writer lets readers understand the myriad of influences that have formed Cuban cuisine. From her Catalan grandmother came recipes for cocido and sopa de ajos-classic Spanish soups. From her father, sportsman and bon vivant, came recipes for rabbit stews and lisa frita, or black mullet fish, pan-fried in olive oil and lime juice. Dried shrimp, a staple of the Chinese immigrants who settled in Cuba, makes a Cuban-style fried rice when blended with saffron, Valencia rice and pimentos. The 150 recipes O'Higgins collected and tested are clear and accessible, with prefaces that both entertain and inform the cook, making the book a worthwhile addition to the cookbook lover's library. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Lluria de O'Higgins grew up in Cuba during the 1920s and 1930s, and her food memoir offers a look at a bygone culture as well as recipes for classic Cuban specialties. Because the author's family was rich for the early part of her life but thereafter relatively poor, she draws on a broader range of experiences-including both elaborate meals and simpler ones (she fondly describes some favorite dishes as "dclass")-than Mary Urrutia Randelman in Memories of a Cuban Kitchen (LJ 10/15/92). Her well-written text provides a vivid picture of her early life, and the recipes are indeed authentic. Joyce LaFray's Cuba Cocina (LJ 6/16/94) showcases today's Cuban American cuisine; Lluria de O'Higgins fills in the background. For most collections.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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7.37(w) x 9.12(h) x 1.01(d)

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My first thanks must go to the person who was the last to review this project: my competent and delightful editor, Kathy Martin, who so professionally organized my work of four years that at long last my book is a reality. I can never thank her enough.

Thanks to my children, Titi, Johnny, Mike, Jimmy, and Peggy, who gave me my first computer and have encouraged me to write since the days when I was writing my memoirs; to Mike and Donna, especially, who first "put the bug in my ear" about writing a Cuban cookbook. Thanks again, very especially to Peggy, who was my right hand in this project until its last year; and again to her husband, Robert Boyers, for their generous and loving hospitality during the summers when I attended New York State Summer Writers' Institute in Saratoga. And to Jimmy for finding for me my agent, Emilie Jacobson, who sold my project to HarperCollins Publishers.

Thanks to Katha Pollitt of the Summer Writers' Institute, for her teaching and guidance in the early stages of this book; and to David Rieff, also my mentor at the Institute, for his help and his enthusiasm for all things Cuban.

No thanks are sufficient for that saint, my aplatanado husband, for his unlimited patience throughout my struggles in this enterprise. Special thanks to my supportive brother, Pancho, for sharing our childhood memories and for his invaluable advice. Many thanks to my sisters, Ina and Sofy, who have sent me their recipes and family photographs; to my sisters-in-law, Isabelita La Rosa y Freire, Carmita D¡az y D¡az, and Noem¡ Miralles Poveda for variations of classic recipes. To my friend, Lol¢ Torres, for hergreat recipes and for the photograph of Hotel Torres. I am also indebted to my cousin, Graciela Carol y Smith, for her delicious desserts and to her gourmet husband, Juan Diez Arg*elles, for his recipes and his stories. Thanks to another great gourmet in our family, my nephew, Mikie Lluri  y D¡az, for his special recipes, and to his sister, Ronnie Lluri  y D¡az de Z£€iga, not only for her great recipes but also for those from her friends and relatives, Mar¡a Elena Breton, Marilyn Calienes Fern ndez, and Dulce Z£€iga. Thanks also to Lucy Fiallo for her recipes and for her helpful suggestions, to Rafaelito Dalmau, the sole surviving son of Don Faustino, for his father's recipe of "the best sausages in the world," to my friend and neighbor, Norita Fern ndez Aramburo de Dalmau for the photo of the Hotel La Dominica and its owners, the elder Dalmaus, to another neighbor and friend, Tita Castro Mux¢ de Larrieu, for sharing the venerable classic, Delicias de la Mesa (Delights of the Table), by Mar¡a A. de los Reyes Gavil n, and for enlightening me about the interesting story of El Murci‚lago (the bat), the mysterious trademark of Bacard¡. To my cousin, Cuquita S nchez Hern ndez de Aguirregaviria, for great recipes and to her daughter, Teresita Aguirregaviria y S nchez de D valos, to Gelsys Mart¡nez Milan‚s de Pascual, Nena Doy y Rosell¢ de Sanabria, and Elinita Cora y Johnson, who gave me music, lyrics, and photographs of Varadero. Special thanks also to Dr. Gast¢n R. Jones y Diez Arg*elles, for sharing his ancient book, Our Islands and Their People, and to Jos‚ Esteban Fern ndez-Llebr‚z y Babot and his genteel wife, Lila Hern ndez y Hern ndez, for their helpful advice.

I must not forget the generosity of Juan Castro y Larrieu, who through the intercession of his wife, Christie Sabul‚ y Saladrigas, parted with the beautiful photograph of old Varadero's north beach, one of his precious possessions. Thanks also to Franýois Larrieu y Vidal, for more photographs of old Varadero.

I especially want to thank Esperanza de Verona and Gladys Ramos who graciously helped me in my research at the Special Cuban Collection of the University of Miami Richter Library. And last of all, I wish to express my gratitude to my editors at HarperCollins, Susan Friedland, and her gracious assistant, Jennifer Griffin, who allowed me to bring this book to its completion.

A todos much¡simas gracias!

When I was growing up in Cuba in the 1920s and '30s, there was always a fire burning in the massive charcoal stove of our huge kitchen. In the center of the kitchen was a big, crude wooden table, and along the tall white walls smaller tables were lined up like a counter. The broad, unscreened windows and gleaming tile floors added to the feeling of vastness. It might have seemed a forbidding place, especially to a child, were it not for the constant clutter of food and the friendly buzz of cooking.

I can still smell the sweet aromas that emanated from that kitchen, and from all the kitchens in our neighborhood. One could almost tell the time of day by them: The bracing blend of Cuban coffee brewing and raw milk boiling for caf‚ con leche meant that it was about 7:00 a.m., almost time para desayunarse, to eat breakfast. The pungent aroma of saut‚ing sofrito, the mixture of onion, garlic, and green bell pepper that is the base for so many Cuban dishes, meant that noon was near, time for almuerzo, the three-course midday meal. The delicate scent of a sour orange juice marinade bathing a piece of steak or chicken might signal the approach of comida, the formal evening meal.

Cubans have a vast and varied culinary inheritance: The Spanish who colonized the island, the Africans who were taken there as slaves, and the Chinese who came still later as laborers all brought their traditions to bear on Cuba's tropical abundance. It is an extraordinary combination.

For me Cuban cooking is home cooking, and home—the home of my heart—is the beautiful beach town of Varadero. I was born and spent the early part of my childhood in C rdenas, a large port city in Matanzas province known as la Ciudad Bandera, the city of the flag, because it was the place where the flag of Cuba's independence from Spain first flew. My father's father, Miguel Lluri  Rosell, had built a fortune from shipbuilding and was a member of C rdenas's elite. But the fortune was lost after his untimely death in 1916, and eventually the only home left to us was the "summer house" my mother's father had built at Varadero.

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Taste of Old Cuba: More Than 150 Recipes for Delicious, Authentic, and Traditional Dishes 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mom cooked great I remember & so friends & family commented. Grandma of Asturian decent taught her well. I might have been a bad eater, but I certainly know good Cuban cooking myself. Thanks to A Taste of Old Cuba, Gandma & mom from the Heavens guided me to continue with the tradition that I enjoy and remember so... My now husband bought me this book in 1999 when I needed it most for all I remember was the flavor but not the recipies & so eating at 11pm instead of 6:30pm was well worth the wait as it brought to me those tasteful memories I was loved with as I grew up. I do use pressure cooker like mom did to speed things up occassionally, even w/out it we eat earlier & tastier as time has come by.