A different way to celebrate Christmas
I left Cuba on December 21 of 2000 just a few days before Christmas. It was very exciting and sad at the same time because for the first time I was living everything I knew and coming to a different country and for the first time was experiencing how the rest of the world celebrate the holidays.
I’m amazed at myself... This is me 18 years ago when I marry the love of my life. Started a new life in a new country, with no friends or family full of hopes with dreams... This past Friday marked precisely 20 years since I met Kenny and 18 since I landed in Nashville in a cold, snowy day.
I have learned and accomplished so many things since then: learn a new language, learn how to drive, studied piano for 3 years, started my own company Paz Communications, and launch a Spanish language TV show, launched Entertainment Circle Network, went to the Oscars 3 times, the American Country Awards, the Dove Awards, interviewed so many celebrities and artists, traveled to Cuba with President Obama as part of the White House Press Corp, started a Tour Company, and so much more... These are just a few of the things I’ve done, and there are many other things to accomplish, but there is still a lifetime ahead of me to fulfill all my hopes and dreams.
But talking about a different way to celebrate Christmas, I didn't know about the different food that was served or that it was observed on the 25th not on the 24th as we do in Cuba. So, tonight is a big deal for us in Cuba. We have our Lechón Asado (roasted pig) with tamales, plantains, lettuce salad, congris (rice and beans cooked together) and off course lots of rum and dancing. At midnight we wish everyone Feliz Navidad and off to continue dancing or to bed.
The most special time in Cuba is the end of the year party. We start early in the morning with food preparation. It's not a one person's job, the whole family gets involved in it. Here are some of the most popular dishes that are prepared for Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) and New Year's Eve in Cuba:
One of the identifying dishes of Cuban cuisine. There is no popular or homemade party in which this delicacy is lacking. In rural areas it is roasted outdoors (picture above) and it takes almost the whole day to do so. It's marinated with lemon or sour orange, garlic, onion and other species. The traditional pair of this delicacy is congrís rice, but also cassava with mojo and fried foods, although it can be combined with vegetables, mashed potatoes or other preferences these trimmings are part of the flavor of the Cuban.
Chilindrón de Chivo (Goat)
A recipe prepared according to the region of the country. The meat is soaked in sour orange for several hours while preparing a sauce with tomato puree, garlic, onion, peppers, parsley, salt and pepper to taste. The goat meat are placed in that mixture and cooked over low heat, adding wine. There are regions of Cuba where beer is used instead of wine, adding it little by little so it'll be cooked in it. A traditional dish, mainly from rural areas, which can be accompanied with rice, potato, yams, plantains, yucca and a salad.
Moros y Cristianos (Congrís)
The perfect combination to accompany the roasted pig. Essential for Cubans who do not need a holiday to prepare it. After being cooked the black beans, fry the crushed garlic, the chopped onion and the chili. Add the rice and then the cooked beans in equal proportion. And to complete the laurel, cumin, and some other element according to personal preference. Everything is cooked resulting in an inexplicable and insurmountable mixture in terms of taste. The majority of Cubans name it congrís, which is why in many restaurants they find it with that name.
Tamal de Hoja
A heavenly dish, one of my favorites. If it is delicious to try it, you will surely enjoy watching its preparation. It is made with tender, fresh corn. The straw is removed, it is grated or grounded and make a sauce with crushed garlic, onion, pepper, lemon, salt, tomato puree if desired and oil. This mixture is poured into the leaves, well wrapped, tied and cooked in a pressure cooker or bowling water. It's a long process, but tasty.
Yuca con Mojo
It is a dish consumed very often on the island. Another essential in the Cuban celebrations. It is cooked and then seasoned with a garlic sauce with sour orange juice.
Cascos de Guayaba
A dessert that summarizes the best of traditional Cuban cuisine. Made with the dough of the guava, it is cooked for a short time avoiding to overcook it. Add sugar and cook until it becomes a delicious syrup. It is usually accompanied by cheese, but the one that best combines it is cream cheese, a union blessed by the gods in a dish that will surely not be forgotten.
Recipes courtesy of islalocal.com
Hope you enjoy your celebration with whatever you choose to eat. Thank you all for your support, for reading my blogs, newsletters, and for your business. The Your Tour Guide to Cuba team appreciates you very much!
Feliz Navidad y Prospero 2019!
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