Cuba on My Mind

Cuba Festival's DanzAbierta

Image credit: DanzAbierta

The lights dimmed, the curtains parted. Six sinewy bodies crouched on stage carved by light, and glided towards what appeared to be small blue islands. They slid like honey across the floor, putting on fragments of ruffles – white skirts, arm bands, headdresses – ready to become somebody else.

DanzAbierta, a contemporary dance contemporary, debuting at the Joyce Theatre for its Cuba Festival, tells the story of a country at the crux of rapid transformation. During a short but heart-racing performance last night, they tore vigorously through the stage with raw, vibrant soul, and took my breath away.  more »

La Filosofía: A Legacy in Motion

Aprons from La Filosofía

In her grandparent’s kitchen in Miami, Ana Sofía Pelaez would stir her grandmother’s natilla as it simmered on the stove. She was 5 years old. more »

So you think you can Cuban?

I don’t know what it is about the media these days that has me finding inspiration in the most random of places. This week I began watching one of my favorite shows of all time: So you think you dance? Alright alright, I’m a total  fan. There, I said it. 

In search for something to eat that would get my taste buds moving, I decided to visit Margon Restaurant, a tiny, loud Cuban eatery located in Midtown, on 46th street and 6th Avenue. Undettered by the unassuming entrance, I went inside and found myself in what at first seemed like a comfort food haven. On the left side of this small space was a cornucopia of trays brimming with beef stew, roasted chicken, red beans, yellow and white rice, plantains, octopus and avocado salads, and other Cuban classics. 

The place was buzzing with regulars, young preppy employees from nearby offices, tough-looking construction workers seeking to refuel on their break, and a couple of adventurous tourists finishing their coffee and flans while studying maps of the city. The place was definitely alive and vibrant with energy, people in line, ordering, eating, waiting for empty seats, talking and laughing. This place is a far cry from a restaurant, it’s more like a cafeteria, but is somewhere you can easily become a regular, offering simple, hearty home-cooked Latin fare.

Although the food seemed every bit authentic at first, transporting me to some forgotten spot in Miami’s Little Havana, the overall experience left me disappointed. I ordered the roasted chicken, white rice, red beans and maduros(sweet ripe plantains). The food was served not in a plate, but in an aluminum container. Had they run out of plates? 

The rice was fresh and red beans creamy and delicious, but the roasted chicken was swimming in an oily mess and the avocado was overly mushy and past its prime. Everybody else around me didn’t seem to mind, however. It is a place where you don’t have to worry about being too loud, where you can easily disappear into the crowd. 

I had read about Margon on, a blog that deemed it a culinary institution, raving about its Cuban sandwich and fruit shakes. I didn’t get the chance to taste either of these and perhaps I’ll have to if I ever go back. In the meantime, I’ll stick to giving my palate a whirl with my own versions of Cuban at home.

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