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I hope everyone had a good Monday, back at the daily grind! Mine was pretty good - it was nice outside, so that was something to smile about. Before I forget, last night I ate 2 scrambled eggs with hot sauce on them. Blueberry/ Banana smoothie (1/2 cup frozen blueberries, 1 banana, 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond breeze). I didn't have any thing to pack for lunch, so I had to run out. After work I had to run to the university to do some work. I ate my VERY FIRST Lara bar on the way! I always read the labels of products, and I try to find foods that have the least amount of ingredients with most, if not all of them, recognizable to me. The ingredient list on the back of this Lara Bar blew-my-mind in 1 millions ways. That is insane. And amazing. Now that is a "whole food" bar. I am officially a fan! This is seriously the easiest curry dish I have ever made. And it was delicious. Serve over rice and enjoy! I will give you credit! I printed it, and now I don't know where I got it.
But most Cubans don't do anything fancy with malanga, and don't regard it as anything special. It's pretty common, and I suspect it's always relatively cheap and available, meaning it gets eaten a lot regardless of how you feel about it. A bit like Canadians used to be with rutabaga. This is an absolutely typical Cuban meal, as served to tourists, anyway. It starts with fried meat (top right corner), rice and beans, boiled malanga, tostones (fried plantain), more rice and beans, and sliced tomatoes and peppers. Lightly marinated onions are used as a garnish. All of these items came up again and again, with minor variations. I loved the tostones, and this was one of the best malanga dishes we had. It had been cut in pieces and simply boiled, but in salted water which gave it a better flavour than most we had. This was an absolutely typical salad. There was always shredded cabbage and leaf lettuce, and tomatoes. Then there was often onions, cucumber and/or carrots.
This one also had canned beans, which we got a few times in salads. Dressing was always oil and vinegar, salt and pepper. I have read a number of comments claiming there isn't any pepper in Cuba. In fact there was always ground pepper at every table I ate at, but it wasn't black pepper, it was white pepper, so I think a lot of people are simply failing to recognize it. Salads were consistently fresh and good, and it was a pleasure to be able to eat them, and all the fruits, without fear of danger due to bad water quality. The seafood was fantastic. This was grilled shrimp and lobster tails, along with a few tostones. The shrimp were superb. The lobsters were more like giant shrimp than like Canadian lobsters, and my Mom and Mr. Ferdzy both liked them better than Canadian lobsters. Although I admit I'd be very happy to eat either. At one point we stayed in a small apartment that had a "kitchen" and I had a go at doing some cooking myself.
There was a single burner hot-plate, with a choice of hot, hotter and hottest, so my efforts at cooking rice with vegetables were a bit fraught. I did manage to produce something edible and even tasty, but it was touch and go. The above is a really typical market selection. There were large white onion, small red onions, and garlic everywhere. Perhaps half a dozen common peppers, almost all sweet. And those tomatoes were really quite ripe. For some reason the Cuban tomatoes we got were generally redder on the inside than on the outside. We confirmed there are a number of varieties of tomato grown in Cuba, but the ones we had were all very similar in flavour; acidic and juicy but not seedy. We talked about what kind of business we would have if we were Cubans. We decided that home-made potato chips would be the way to go. We did see ONE guy in Havana selling home-made chips and popcorn, but only the one, and after we had come to our conclusion. But we saw people roaming the streets selling all kinds of things, from yucca, beans, strings of onions and garlics, to breads and pastries.
The national dish of Cuba seems to be pizza. There are little shops all over the place, many of them out of what is someones front living room. This one was near our apartment in Cienfuegos, and had exceptionally good pizza. Also a common item to sell out of your front room was ice-cream. We got some for 4 pesos a scoop. Yes, it was a small scoop. 14 cents. (I wont' get into the money here, but there's 2 kinds of money in Cuba: real pesos, used by the locals, and soak-us-we're-tourists money, known as C.U.C.s. A peek inside. Unfortunately I was at the wrong time to get them coming out of the oven. Very plain; little sauce, no seasoning, just a sprinkling of cheese. And yet, very tasty somehow! And the price was hard to beat. I believe these might have been about 12 pesos - about 48 cents. I ate them at every opportunity.