De Cocina Criolla

comida criolla cubana

By Laura Feo-Fernandez

I like to think I’m a pretty good cook. I figure I must be as I am often the recipient of rave reviews from my hubby, usually in the form of clasped hands, eyes pointed toward the ceiling and the words “thank you, God” escaping his lips.

When we were first dating, I didn’t really express much interest in cooking and it never mattered because we were always going out to eat and dance. The first time I really threw down in the kitchen he confessed to me that he thought he was going to be opening cans for the rest of his life.

Now that we have been married almost seven years I am pretty comfortable with comida criolla…in fact many dishes, like picadillo con papas, have become my comfort foods too. Oh yeah, and my empanaditas are the bomb.

That being said, I had a rather interesting experience on our last visit with la familia cubana. My husband’s abuelita gave me the third degree. Granted, I have met abuela on other trips to Cuba but I guess now that I have more confidence conversing en español she felt she needed to make absolutely sure her grandson didn’t marry just another gringa stereotype.

The conversation started out innocently enough…she asked what we were up to, she asked about her great grandson. Then suddenly, “Sabes como cocinar comida criolla?”

“Sí. Claro.”

“Cuales recetas?”

I nervously rattled off everything Cuban I ever remember cooking, feeling proud of my criolla prowess, hoping abuelita was satisfied. Unfortunately, I left off one of, if not the most important Cuban staples.

Friojles negros.

I know, I know…gasp away.

She asked me if I did in fact know how to cook such an important dish. I told her yes and made sure to let her know that I make them from scratch.

I did, however, conveniently leave out the fact that I often make them de lata, for fear of losing credibility.

Because, you never, ever want to lose credibility con la abuela.

Laura Feo-Fernandez is a graduate student in music performance. She lives in Memphis, TN with her husband, Alexis, and their young son.

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By Contributor on February 8, 2011 · Posted in casa + cultura

6 Comments | Post Comment

Giovanny Gutierrez says:

Laura, I share a similar story as yours… I make killer picadillo and empanadas with a twist. I’m vegetarian so I make everything w/ soy and I can promise you, you’d never know the difference because it’s all about the sofrito/sazon.

Now when it comes to black beans, I don’t even want to try as I leave that up to my mother who makes black beans amazingly. In fact, I don’t even think she’d tell me how to make them because of fear that I would not see her as much if I can make them at home lol

Thx for sharing,
-giovanny gutierrez

Posted on February 8th, 2011

LaFeoFern says:

I need to try making picadillo with picadillo de soya. When we told my sister-in-law that people in the US actually buy it by choice she looked like she was going to pass out!
glad you liked my post! Carrie is a goddess…

Posted on February 8th, 2011

Marcela says:

Frijoles negros…my favorite. I have never been able to get used to canned..usually I will have my mom make a big batch and bring me a pot. I know! So spoiled!

I have been consuming lots of beans and lentils lately and truely don’t think I can ever get tired of frijoles negros.

I’m glad you weren’t just another gringa stereo type(:

Posted on February 8th, 2011

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Posted on February 8th, 2011

LaF-F says:

jaja…thanks, Marcela!
You are spoiled! But you know, some of the best frijoles negros I have ever made have been de lata and no one knew but me! I even fooled my cubanazo!

Posted on February 8th, 2011

Ana L. Flores says:

I need to start making more frijoles negros! I grew up in El Salvador and there was always, always a pot of frijoles on the stove. I could live off frijoles, platanos and crema!
Ana L. Flores´s last [fabulousness] ..Growing Up Bilingual

Posted on February 14th, 2011