It’s hard to describe what Cuban food is if you haven’t experienced it. Somewhat Carribbean, a little bit Spanish, a little bit Mexican. But mostly delicious.
Yesterday I found myself near a favorite old haunt, Cafe Piquet on Bissonnet in Houston. I used to frequently eat at Cafe Miami, just down the street a bit. Although they serve yellow rice and black beans, reason to eat there, Cafe Piquet opts for the “arroz blanco, frijoles negros” (white rice, black bean mixture) to represent this traditional staple, and has a more traditional menu. But you can’t go wrong with either place for a taste of cocina cubano.
One thing I find interesting in a pure ethnic restaurant such as Cafe Piquet is the clientèle. When I dine there, I’m typically the only gringo in sight, most of the patrons being Cuban. Conversations are always in Spanish, spoken with a lyrical rhythm and clear enunciation unlike the Tex-Mex one hears nearly everywhere in South Texas. While I understand a little, I can more easily pick up words and phrases listening to the Cuban tongue than I can the Tex-Mex mess.
But back to the food. Last night I dined on pernil asado with arroz blanco, frijoles negros, and platanos maduros (roasted pork with white rice, black beans, and ripe plantains). Washed down with a Peruvian Cristal (alas, no mojito), the meal was more than I could handle (translation: take away!), but every bite tasty. Just wished my Spanish were better so I could catch more of the floating conversations, although likely they are more exotic in my imagination than if I knew what they were saying.