by fariba Rajabi
Saeed my husband is such a ready-for-any-trip person!! Once we arrived in Vancouver few weeks ago, he started looking into some sort of getaway place to spend few days away from home! It was like taking a vacation to rest from another vacation! So funny, but before I knew it, we were on the plane heading off to Varadero. Arrived around early evening when it was dark, when I say dark, I not only mean the sky was dark but the whole highway did not have any lamp and nowhere we could see. And when we got into the city, people just marginally lighted up their houses. It was a very strange feeling to see how different their lifestyle was from us, Canadians. At a certain place there was a gate that only tourists could pass and it was the entrance to where all the hotels were located.
If I am to describe Cuba in one word, that word would be authentic in nature and rustic in design. This country is full of natural landscapes where we found ourselves drown into each one for hours. We went to the Jeep Safari Tour which took us to the most beautiful scenery in the world.
While in Cuba, we went on a Safari trip and visited some of beautiful scenery, villages, and life of people. For lunch we went to a suburban farm operated by a Cuban family. They served black-bean rice,, vegetable soup, streamed pumpkin on the tables made out wood and the chair’s seats were made out of goat’s skin. It truly was an incredible place.
They served us coffee at an old Cuban house. Life at passing-by villages at its most simplest form. People are poor but houses are with a lot of character.
We also went to Havana another day. Here in this blog I just leave it to photos to describe what went on.
Just in short, people in Cuba drive cars of 50’s or so; very old and rustic. I pinched myself sometimes, because to me it was incredible how people managed those cars for so many years. Cars looked like the ones we can only see in stone-age movies!
I found this incredibly telling for how people of Cuba have searched pride in their lives in the past 60 years.
Cubans just do anything to make a little bit of money. People are very educated but what government gives them, just makes enough to be alive. A lot of people by dressing up or playing a little trick and treat want to make as much as money they can from tourists.
This girl I saw in Havana was a very special one to me. She was painted in silver holding a silver rose. Passing-by tourists would stop by, took a photograph and put a little money in her little silver bag. The moment I saw her, my heart just melted. In a poor country where people have barely can make a living, for a woman, this is a loving way of making good and clean money. She seemed to be like a statue from distance but actually, she had very affectionate and telling eyes. I loved her so much.
Now, it comes to what we ate the most in Cuba!. The black bean and rice was basically what was served everyday in the resort and what we ate at the village on Safari. “The black bean and rice dish comes with an interesting title. Literally translated, Moros y Cristianos means Moors and Christians. It is presumed the dish gets its name from the time when the Moors occupied the Iberian Peninsula. The black beans represent the Moors and the white rice represents the Christians. In Cuba, the name of this dish refers to the mix of African and Spanish cultures. Vegetarians can make an entree of this soul-satisfying side” (cubanfood.org).
Here is my recipe for this satisfying and tasty dish.
- 2 cups cooked black beans
- 2tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cups of white rice
- 1 small onion
- 1 small bell pepper
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons cilantro
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 4 cups of vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 garlic clove finely chopped
- 2tablespoons tomato paste
Cook black beans in water for about 2 hours until cooked and set aside. You can skip this step by using one can of black beans.
Put garlic, pepper, cilantro, and onion in the food processor and puree.
In a medium pot, add olive oil and saute garlic and mixed puree for 2-3 minutes. Add salt, pepper, cumin, beans and tomato paste and mix.
Add 3 cups of white rice and 4 cups of vegetable broth. Mix and cook until the broth is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes. Then, cook on very low heat for another 20 minutes.
Serve this dish with kebabs or stew of your choice. It is easily paired with almost any other dishes.