The Cuban Kitchen: A Mother's Cooking From Miami To Maine

Aug 23, 2013

Cuban cuisine has chewed its way into South Florida's culture. Many an abuela has shared family recipes for ropa vieja and bistec empanizado, through generations. WLRN wants a seat at your table to hear stories, memories or recipes from your kitchen.


Richard Blanco at home in Maine

These are the first lines of Richard Blanco's poem, "Cooking with Mamá in Maine" from his book, Looking for the Gulf Motel

 Two years since trading mangos

for these maples, the white dunes

of the beach for the White Mountains

etched in my living room window,

I ask my mother to teach me how

to make my favorite Cuban dish.

Blanco's poetry is filled with vivid descriptions of the Cuban exile experience, especially the flavors his mother brought to Miami when his parents left Cuba (by way of Spain). 

When he left Miami for Maine several years ago, he missed those flavors of Miami, those flavors of Cuba, those flavors of his childhood. In this poem, as Blanco watches his mother prepare his favorite dish, he contemplates his youth, the trajectory of his mother's life, and his own future. 

In January, Richard Blanco read his poem, "One Today,"  at President Obama's inauguration. His memoir, For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet's Journey, is due out in November from Beacon Press.