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Havana Salsa: Stories and Recipes Hardcover – Deckle Edge, August 22, 2006

5 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Chef Ronaldo's Sabores de Cuba: Diabetes-Friendly Traditional and Nueva Cubano Cuisine by Ronaldo Linares
"Chef Ronaldo's Sabores de Cuba" by Ronaldo Linares
Chef Ronaldo's Sabores de Cuba features nearly 100 recipes, all of which will wow your taste buds and meet the strict nutrition guidelines of the American Diabetes Association. Learn more
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Food columnist Carballo's devotion to both her Cuban homeland and the magnificent food of her childhood are evident in this memoir with recipes. She grew up in prerevolutionary Cuba in the 1950s with divorced parents—her father, a philandering fortune-teller, instilled in his daughter a passion for food. "My dad loved every kind of food and always encouraged me to sample right along with him," Carballo writes. "He took pleasure in every bite. It was a joyful experience, and since then I have always associated food with being cosseted, with being happy." This anecdote is followed by a recipe for Roast Duck El Pacifico. Each vignette is a mere tidbit, a taste of Carballo's life, covering her family's eccentric friends, her years in an American convent boarding school, her early romances, right up to her escape to the U.S. after Castro came to power. The stories are not as consistently fulfilling as the recipes; the ones she doesn't tell are quite interesting: "Little did I know that my mother was on a mission to the Sierra Maestra carrying medicines and small arms" is virtually all she writes about her mother's astonishing work. The memoir is a treat, although more substantial fare would have been nice. (Aug.)
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Review

"What to serve for dinner the night a new dictator comes to town? If you are like Viviana Carballo and lived in Cuba during the heady first days of 1959, you make pollito en cazuela (stewed whole chicken), accompanied by arroz con coco (coconut rice), and wash it all down with a Kir Royale, of course!...[A] witty, delicious book."

-- Mirta Ojito, author of Finding Mañana: A Memoir of a Cuban Exodus

"Readers looking for standards like tostones and cubanos will be satisfied and then enchanted by unique recipes that could only come from Carballo's experiences."

-- New York Post

"Havana Salsa is food-as-memoir set at a diverse and often eccentric table....[Carballo's] Cuba will never be filled with decaying buildings, rationed supplies and difficult goodbyes. All she has to do is go into the kitchen, and the vibrant pulse of her homeland is revived in a whiff of ripe mango [and] the sizzle of calabaza fritters on the stove."

-- The Orlando Sentinel

"A delicious combination of tales about [Carballo's] quirky family and recipes for dishes that are seared into her memory."

-- The Miami Herald --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Atria; First Printing edition (August 22, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743285166
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743285162
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #613,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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The last 10 years have brought a wealth of "growing up Cuban" memoirs, most notably "Waiting for Snow in Havana," "Tropicana Nights," and "Finding Mañana." Funny thing is, we just can't get enough of them. We guess it's because they bring memories of a Cuba we can only dream about -- the glory days of Cuba that are slowly fading in our memories.

Viviana Carballo has added to the mix with a delightful account of her own rather eccentric family's experiences both BC (Before Castro) and after. Reading this book is a little like pulling up a stool and listening to the stories of a favorite (albeit a little saucy) great aunt. As in many homes of the time and especially in the better homes of Havana, Carballo's mother cooked only occasionally, mostly for holidays and special occasions. The real culinary magic was performed by Dulce, the Carballo's cook and a devout follower of Santeria -- a religion that combines African mystic belief with Catholic faith. It was here that Viviana Carballo first learned the basics of Cuban cuisine, in a kitchen that was quite literally watched over by the Gods.

For those who survived the "revolution," no Cuban life story is without pain and suffering and Carballo's experiences are especially heartrending. Her father is branded a counter-revolutionary and locked up in one of Castro's gulags where he dies after two years of inhumane treatment. When she decides to flee the island, she must leave her husband behind, a horrible Sophie's choice that no woman should ever be faced with.

Carballo seasons her narrative with some 70 recipes for Cuban dishes, some very traditional, although there is a strong emphasis on dishes from the mother country, Spain.
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SHE'S ACTUALLY CUBAN! To begin with, she manages to express the changes in government through food! My heart rose and fell with the stories and descriptions of life in Cuba. Carballo seems to have lived enough for three lives. This book reminded me of my grandmother's stories, only more risqué! ;)
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I really like that this is a cookbook that is not a cookbook....she provides such fabulous imagery of Cuba in its hey day. I am mesmerized by the tales and delight in completing an admittedly...."This is the way I remember it" recipe!
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By Cubagal on November 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
Havana Salsa:Stories and Recipes is just that, a wonderful recounting of a girl's life in pre-Castro Cuba with eccentric and very colorful relatives and family friends and the comfort foods they cooked. An excellent story teller, Viviana Carballo intertwines her stories with recipes that bring back nostalgia as the smells and tastes of Cuba come alive throughout this book. As a fellow Cuban I enjoyed the author's character descriptions, recounting of familiar places, interesting anecdotes and the many memories she shares with her readers. The recipes are easy to follow and characteristically Cuban. This little gem is a delightful read.
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Being from Havana myself and coming over to the States as a 12 year old I can relate to not only some of her stories but the way it has been written is so true to life in Cuba during that era. Love her recipes, brings back very old memories.

Vivian St Pierre
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