Tuesday, February 6, 2018


Perhaps you recall my mentioning that, before every trip to somewhere new and exotic, I always try to find a fun novel based in that country, that was written by a foodie. It started with our trip to Marseille, where I had the best meal of my life in back of a little butcher shop, thanks to a tip from Peter Mayle in his book The Vintage Caper.

This time, when I googled "Cuban Foodie Novel", I came up with this book.

It's the story of a young man who tries to save his failing restaurant in New York by returning to Cuba, his dead father's homeland, to get ahold of a top-secret chicken-with-orange-sauce recipe which was lost to them when the Cuban government took possession of their family restaurant, El Ajillo. I assumed it was all made up.

So, imagine my surprise when, just a few days before we left for Cuba, I googled "Anthony Bourdain Cuba", found an episode of his travel series set in Cuba to watch on my computer, and there he was, eating at a state-owned restaurant called El Aljibe, whose recipe for their famous chicken with bitter orange sauce is a state secret!

Alas, we did not get to eat there while in Cuba. It does, however, reinforce the validity of my pre-travel ritual, don't you think?

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