Being raised by and living with two real Cubans (my parents) for about 80% of my life, I’ve learned that most Cubans aren’t really into trying new food. They most definitely are not fans of anything spicy. And whenever it’s time for a birthday, graduation or a wake it’s always, “Let’s go to Versailles, La Carreta, Sergio’s, Havana Harry’s or any other Cuban restaurant.” Cuban food is magical and was invented to help us all deal with happiness, success and pain.
Another thing I’ve noticed, especially about my dad, is that anytime I do make him try a new place he always gives it the same review, “No es nada del otro mundo” (it’s nothing out of this world or nothing from another planet). I’ve heard this same review from plenty of other old Cubans in my family and some not in my family.
If you’re holding every new meal to that standard, then you’re never going to find something you like. I don’t know what they’re searching for, but whatever it is they probably won’t find it here on Earth. Where do Old Cubans think Cuban food comes from? A secret space station? The Millennium Falcon? Pandora?
Everything we have ever eaten so far has been “from this world.” None of the Old Cubans I know were ever astronauts, so I don’t know what kind of space cakes and moon pies they think they’ll find. I’m sure if we did try the cuisine from Mars or Venus it wouldn’t be very tasty. Did you see how much trouble Matt Damon went through just to grow plants on Mars (in The Martian)? An extraordinary amount of trouble.
I love Cuban food, especially croquetas and vaca frita and tres leches and flan and the bread is simply amazing (with and without butter, toasted and untoasted, it’s always great).
As a young whippersnapper I only ate hot dogs, chicken nuggets and pizza. It wasn’t until I watched Good Burger in the theater that I thought, Hey, I should give hamburgers another try! We went straight to Burger King, where I learned what burgers should taste like (or that’s what I thought at the time). Now, I enjoy trying all types of new cuisine from all over the world. (I’m no Andrew Zimmern or Anthony Bourdain, but I’ll try some stuff at Epcot Food & ‘Lines’ Festival).
Attempting to take my parents to a new place is tough, they just want something familiar. Anything not Cuban “sounds weird” to them. They like sticking to old Cuban restaurants or famous chains that they already trust. I feel this may be common in most Cubans who were born on that island.
Maybe someone (aka the government) was trying to poison everyone on the island, so they only ate at places they already trusted. Now, since coming to Miami, they’ve found their few safe restaurants and will continue dining at those and only those few spots.
Another thing with this older generation is that they were brought up on the crappy food pyramid and they have no idea what’s healthy and what isn’t. You try to explain what’s bad and why it’s bad, but they listen to idiots like Dr. Oz, Wolf Blitzer and GMA instead.
I know what’s healthy and what I should be eating. However, I choose to eat what’s not healthy because I am still kind of young and the healthy food isn’t as delicious. In fact, the healthy food usually tastes like butt and life is too short to waste it eating gross, healthy food (like quinoa and kale). But by eating that healthy, crap food you may have a longer life. But it won’t be much longer, so eat what you want. Just make sure to try new things along the way.
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