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Here's a guidebook that complements Fodor's Cuba. To learn more about it, just enter the title in the keyword search box.Fodor's Exploring Cuba: An information-rich cultural guide in full color.
Read an Excerpt
Ever since Christopher Colombus called the largest of the Antilles "the most beautiful thing human eyes ever beheld," everyone who has known Cuba has fallen hopelessly in love with the place. Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway, Ava Gardner, Winston Churchill, King Edward VIII...Cuba has had many passionate admirers. Novelists, in particular, have found Cuba fertile hunting grounds for comedy, tragedy, and, above all perhaps, for poiesis the production of art and emotion. Cuba is consistently moving in a poetic way.
At once the most Spanish country in the Americas and the most Americanized of the Hispanic countries in the New World, Cuba is on the cusp of all things: New World and Old, Atlantic and Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and Straits of Florida, Uncle Sam and Latin America, animism and Catholicism, Africa and Spain, east and west, and for the last 40 years individualism and collectivism, capitalism and socialism. Cuba is romantic and irresistible, it would seem, precisely because it's so conflicted, so paradoxal, so relentlessly ripe with irony, so impossible.
On the island's eastern end, dishes are more Caribbean and less Spanish; they're prepared with more spices and are typically cooked in coconut oil and lechita (coconut milk). Eastern dishes include congrí oriental (rice and red kidney beans), bacón (a plantain tortilla filled with spicy pork), and tetí (a small, orange fish caught in the river estuaries between August and December.) Rice is yellow not from saffron but from annatto seeds, also used to color butter. "Indian bananas" are boiled in their salmon-colored skins and dressed with garlic and lime juice.
Desserts include specialties such as guayaba (guava paste) or mermelada de mango (mango jelly), both often served con queso (with cheese). The eastern treat, cucurucho, is made of coconut, sweet orange, papaya, and honey. Of course the island's love affair with sugarcane led to its ron (rum) industry. While you're here, be sure to have a mojito (light rum, sugar, mint, and soda; from the verb "mojar," meaning "to moisten, to wet" as in "to wet your whistle") or the classic daiquiri (blended light rum, lime, and ice). If you'd like the sugar experience without the kick, have a guarapo (cane juice; thought to be an aphrodisiac).
Your Cuban journey will no doubt be accompanied by a veritable soundtrack of island music. There are countless genres, from classical to Latin jazz to such hybrids of European and African sounds as salsa, timba, conga, rumba, bolero, son, danzón, guájira, mambo, nueva, and vieja trova. And every community seems to have some sort of weekly musical event. On a typical Sunday night in Trinidad (where two music havens La Casa de la Musica and La Casa de la Trova are steps from each other), for example, you might encounter a septet led by a man of 70-odd years playing for a crowd of 50. Men and women of all ages will no doubt dance with confidence and aplomb.
Table of Contents
On the Road with Fodor's
Smart Travel Tips A to Z
"Cuba: A Romantic Drama"
New and Noteworthy
Pleasures and Pastimes
Festivals and Seasonal Events
Nightlife and the Arts
Outdoor Activities and Sports
Havana A to Z
Pinar del Río Province
Archipiélago de los Canarreos
Western Cuba A to Z
Cienfuegos, Villa Clara, and Sancti Spíritus Provinces
Ciego de Ávila and Camagüey Provinces
Central Cuba A to Z
Holguín and Granma Provinces
Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo Provinces
Eastern Cuba A to Z
Portraits of Cuba
"Cuba at a Glance: A Chronology"
"Cuban Music: Irresistible Rhythms"
Ideas and Images