CUBA's Home Restaurant Revolution

CUBA's Home Restaurant Revolution

Guests dine at a 'Home Restaurant' in Cuba.

As Real Food Real Kitchens photographer and video extraordinaire Jammi York prepares for his first trip to Cuba, he put in a call to me saying, 'I think we should shoot some episodes of the series while I am there. I've heard people run restaurants right out of their homes!' His excitement boiled over in to my creative mind flow as well and so I decided, "Heck yeah! If you're going to Cuba it's a no brain-er to shoot some episodes while you are there!" And so the decision was made and so I found out that the 'home restaurant scene' is booming in Cuba and has been for the last 10 years or more!

Communist rule has forced the production of many state-run restaurants where tourists struggle with half assed 'Cuban' dishes and then try in vain to find some authentic Cuban cuisine. Step aside from the streets of government run restaurants and onto the side streets of a neighborhood like Vedado in Havana and one might find a plethora of privately owned restaurants, known here as paladares, bringing in the well seasoned style and authentic food of Cuba.

Side street in Havana.

As Cuba is on the verge of becoming a land filled with American tourists and being stripped of the 1950's charm that it's known for, the paladares are booming, full of those last few people who come to Cuba for it's gastronomic way of life. Following the Obama administration’s decision to lift some restrictions on travel to Cuba, Americans may now travel in “people-to-people” tour programs, which encourage contact with Cubans and in some cases puts on a facade of Cuban life influenced by the all mighty dollar.

Whatever the case may be, the life and flavors of Cuban food will be kept alive in the hearts and souls of its people and the people who have true appreciation for a non-leathery pork chop or two. Watch for a Real Food Real Kitchens Cuban episode coming soon.

by Craig Chapman