Paladares: Recipes Inspired By the Private Restaurants of Cuba


Shop Notes:

I lived in Florida for four years, and my favorite places for lunch were always the Cuban restaurants.  I loved the Cubanos and Medianoches at takeout windows, the generous stews served over rice at local cafeterias, the buffets full of pork and picadillo, the sit down restaurants with fancied-up sides of boiled and fried yucca and tostones.  The desserts and ice creams.  All of it.  Whenever I make it back to Key West, I make a bee line for El Siboney.  I just love the simplicity and love that is inherent in Cuban cuisine.

Anya Von Bremzen's Paladares is both a cookbook and a love letter to Cuban food culture..  Sure, this book covers recipes for the most popular Cuban dishes Americans know and love (Tostones, Maduros, Ropa Vieja, moros y christianos, yuca con mojo), but there are a lot of recipes I've never seen, both easy and more complicated.  For those readers who just love a good food travelogue or cultural celebration, this cookbook really just checks all the boxes.

From the Publisher:

The first book to tell the mesmerizing story of the new Cuban cuisine. A narrative and visual feast from James Beard Award–winning writer Anya von Bremzen and photographer Megan Fawn Schlowwith more than 100 vibrant recipes. 
Cuba is experiencing a cultural and culinary renaissanceand its paladares, the private restaurants, are leading the way. Paladares is a fascinating culinary and visual journey through the new Cuba. Born in Soviet Russia in the era of shortages, award-winning writer Anya von Bremzen brings a unique perspective to the stories that Cuba's chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, and food historians share with her. She eavesdrops on passionate arguments about black beans and tamales; pries Daiquirí secrets from legendary El Floridita (Hemingway's watering hole); guides us to vibrant agros (markets) and visionary organic farms. We learn of Fidel's obsession with cows, milk, and ice cream. We hear wrenching memories of the Período Especial, the years of terrible privation after Soviet aid vanished. We meet colorful expats who fell for Cuba and ended up opening restaurantsand local hipsters who obsess over global culture gleaned solely from foreign movies and magazines. Fawn Schlow's evocative photographs frame it all with the ramshackle glamour of old Havana, Cuba's stunning countryside, dishes that are earthy and innovative, and Cuba's incredible people.

The more than 100 recipes in Paladares are as intriguing as the characters behind them. Traditional Cuban bean pots, saucy picadillo, crunchy fritters, soulful tamales, Roast Chicken Stuffed with Black Beans and Riceand a Gulf Stream of cocktailsare all featured here. But the recipes also reflect the current aspiration of Cuban cooks to finally catch up with the world through dishes such as Pumpkin Soup with Blue Cheese, Ceviche with Mango and Black-Eyed Peas, or Coffee-Rubbed Pork. Cuba's culinary culture is being reborn, and Paladares joyously savors this revolution. 

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