Monday, October 3, 2011

Culture Clash

The honeymoon is over.

Having grown weary of the early-morning ride to find good decaf cuban coffee and cuban toast, I decided to begin making my own, even though an earlier experiment several years ago, involving aluminum foil and my clothes iron, had not been a great success. 

The coffee, of course, is easy. 

The last time I bought a loaf of cuban bread, maybe twenty years ago, I knew one had to go all the way to the back of the nearest cuban supermarket, where the bread oven sat, and wait for the next batch of loaves to come out and be put into their paper sleeves and then stood up in the bin at the edge of the counter. 

This time I decided to eschew authenticity for convenience and biked over to the nearby Publix grocery, where cuban bread is just another commodity to be labelled and barcoded.

And given an ingredients list.

It’s bread, right? Flour, water . . . maybe an egg. 

But lard? Lard, in the year 2011?

Toto, I’m afraid we’re not in Oregon any more. I don’t know if it’s the Jew or the vegan in me that recoiled, but suddenly I saw the end of my main motivation to get up and get going on Miami mornings.

Or should I accept it as one more “sabor” of my adopted culture? And if I’ve eaten it unknowingly every day this past week, does it matter if I also eat this loaf, for which I've already paid what my mother would have called "good money" (the waste of which would probably cause her spin even faster than hearing the word "lard").

In any case, am I really as pure as I claim?

The week before I left Portland, I went out to dinner with a good friend who lived in Florida for several years. Like me, she had been a vegetarian for decades--except for a brief spell when she first arrived in Tampa. The same thing happened to me my first year in Miami. And what food was it that tempted each of us to fall off the veggie wagon?

Pan con lechon. Pork sandwiches, dripping juices and redolent of garlic (and served, of course, on that innocent looking bread).

Am I doomed to fall each time I cross that Florida border? Maybe Tex Antoine was right (look it up, kiddies). Maybe I should just surrender myself to all that makes Miami Miami. 

1 comment:

  1. Update, 12-16-11: Is someone at Publix reading my blog? I stopped off at their North Miami store to get a loaf with which to inaugurate my new plancha (sandwich press), and found an altered ingredients list on the cuban bread. No lard! And this neighborhood is marginally more cuban and less Jewish than mine.

    On the other hand, this morning I picked up a loaf, hot out of the oven, from El Presidente supermarket up the street, and I was relieved to see the usual suspects listed on the paper bag. Who knew I'd come to view lard as an old friend?

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