“Cook­ing

HAS TO BE IN YOUR BLOOD”

On Cuba - - CON­TENTS - Ce­cilia Cre­spo

Cuba is a mixed-race is­land, in which fla­vors from all con­ti­nents come to­gether, de­ci­pher­ing them is as­ton­ish­ing. To­day we start with dessert.

I’ve been cook­ing since I was nine. From my mother I in­her­ited the culi­nary pas­sion which, like in her case, has ac­com­pa­nied me through­out my en­tire life. She wouldn’t let any of the fam­ily women into the kitchen and she didn’t like what they cooked, she only en­joyed my dishes.

I think that cook­ing re­quires a vo­ca­tion, to do it well one has to know how to in­ter­pret the food’s smells and fla­vors. I tried to catch many of my “mom’s” se­crets, she never wanted to

re­veal some of them and she lacked the time to leave oth­ers when she passed away. In or­der to not lose those se­crets, the ones she be­queathed me and oth­ers I have been in­cor­po­rat­ing, I’m writ­ing a mod­est book of recipes to make the life of my daugh­ters, nieces and grand­daugh­ter eas­ier.

LATELY, WHAT DO YOU EN­JOY MOST TO COOK?

When you live out­side Cuba for a while you try to take your cui­sine with you, mak­ing it with the in­gre­di­ents you find, it’s rather easy and I en­joy it a great deal, but what most sat­is­fies me is as­sum­ing the chal­lenge of cook­ing Ital­ian food with what we find here. It’s much more com­plex than the process the other way around of pre­par­ing Cuban food in Italy, but my great­est sat­is­fac­tion is when I achieve a de­li­cious so­lu­tion to Ital­ian dishes a la Cuban style. An­other of those mo­ments is the day to day, as­sum­ing the con­stant chal­lenge like all Cuban housewives, of not let­ting creativ­ity die with the daily ques­tion of, what am I go­ing to cook to­day?

WHAT DO YOU COOK THE BEST?

They say the desserts and meats. I be­lieve that it’s the sweets, like French toast, which is made many ways, but I pro­pose them with a bit of cookin1g wine, which gives it a very special fla­vor, like those made by my mother.

In­gre­di­ents

12 slices of bread 1 liter of milk 2 cups of sugar 1 spoon of cin­na­mon sticks 2 eggs 1 spoon of cook­ing wine 1 tea­spoon of vanilla 1 cup of fry­ing oil a pinch of salt

Prepa­ra­tion

Boil the milk with the cin­na­mon and sugar, let it cool and add the vanilla and the cook­ing wine. Pre­pare the syrup with the cin­na­mon. Slice the bread. Beat the eggs with a pinch of salt. First soak the bread slices in the milk and then in the beaten egg. Fry in hot oil un­til they are golden on both sides. Bathe in the syrup and, eat and en­joy!

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