It seems that to some, Cuba is a wonderful and luxurious destination. That is, of course, as long as you ignore the starving slaves living in misery and you limit yourself to exclusively associating with the elite members of Cuba’s dictatorship.
It is hard to imagine a more callous, elitist, insensitive, and obscene description of a visit to Cuba than the one reported here by Peter Orsi of the AP:
California Chefs Encourage Fresh Dining in Cuba
Rice, beans, pork — and lots of it. That’s a typical restaurant meal in Cuba, widely regarded by travelers as a culinary wasteland where the variety and quality of raw ingredients leave much to be desired.
But a delegation of chefs from Alice Waters’ celebrated Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California, is in Havana on a mission to spark a revolution in the Cuban diet by exposing islanders to healthier dishes with more fruits and vegetables, preferably grown organically and sustainably by local food cooperatives.
In the last week, members of the “Planting Seeds” delegation have held give-and-take seminars in Havana with chefs and culinary students about slow food. They also put on two massive dinners, including a five-course, five-star meal at the privately run Le Chansonnier, which drew culinary, artistic and influential leaders like President Raul Castro’s daughter, Mariela. A 100-person bash was held at a state-run restaurant for luminaries such as Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, California state Sen. Loni Hancock and senior Cuban officials who are in position to affect agricultural policy.
The California chefs toured nearby organic farms and marveled at the fresh, pesticide-free produce, which they stuffed into car trunks as the base foodstuffs for the dinners. And by dreaming up new uses for workaday ingredients, they gave their Cuban counterparts a lot to think about.
Luis Ramon Batlle, for one, has seen plenty of guava during his long cooking career, but never thought to combine it with rabbit-liver pate atop a crispy wafer.