Cuban food project conjures up memories of family, Southern fare

By ANITA SNOW – Associated Press – June 06, 2007

HAVANA (AP) _ The fragrant smell of onions and coriander wafting from the bubbling pot of beans on my kitchen stove conjures up the memory of my mother, a Southerner who would have recognized and appreciated many of the humble dishes I am cooking for my study of how and what Cubans eat.

From a poor Virginia family that struggled through the Great Depression and later lived through the rationing of World War II, my mom’s stories of her early life were similar to those Cubans now tell me: struggles, scrimping and saving, wearing hand-me-downs and adding extra water to the pot for one more hungry person at the supper table.

She talked a lot about the food. Steaming plates of black-eyed peas ensured good luck every New Year’s Day. A Christmas ham glazed with pineapple was a rare treat for folks who regularly ate more lima beans than meat.