Memories of a Cuban Kitchen

Mary Urrutia Randelman, Author, Joan Schwartz, With
Mary Urrutia Randelman, Author, Joan Schwartz, With MacMillan Publishing Company $25 (334p) ISBN 978-0-02-600911-9
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
Paperback - 334 pages - 978-0-02-860998-0
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``Most Cubans will tell you that we have two food groups: party food--made up of snacks--and real food, built around fish, stews and soups,'' write menu consultant Randleman and editor Schwartz. ``We seem to consume more of the former.'' In 1957, when Randleman herself was 10 years old, her prosperous family emigrated to Miami from Cuba. Her memories of pre-Castro life and eating are filtered through a golden haze of childhood recollection: cousin Pepe entertains his family at meriendasic (afternoon tea), in which ``steaming trays began appearing from the kitchen, borne by a parade of indulgent maids and cooks,'' and glamorous Aunt Titi drives the young Randelman to the Havana Yacht Club for incomparable freshly fried potato chips and croquetassic ``filled with smoky creamed ham and splashed with lime juice.'' The Cuban national cuisine as it emerges here is a fusion of Spanish, African, Chinese and Portuguese elements, as one sees in a dish such as okra stew with plaintain dumplings ( guiso de quimbombo ), containing root vegetables, sherry, bacon and Cuban beef stock, always seasoned with cumin.92 Lime juice is used liberally, both as marinade and flavoring. Desserts are largely custards, flans and puddings.250 The book is a personal yet comprehensive introduction to a cuisine perpetuated more in South Florida than in its native island. (Oct.)
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