It's really not easy to look for topics to write about when I've been publishing this column for five years - and almost six years away - uninterruptedly, week after week. An old saying goes:

He who seeks always finds

. It's true! Something always appears to hook you, “the handle of the brush”, and more, stimulated by the work of friend

Richard Roselló

, who is working on a book that will be very useful for the amount of information and data it can provide to Cuban cuisine. .

The book will be dedicated to that literature that is a little undervalued and thrown away, but which is a very broad exponent of our reason for being, of our culture, of how and what, how we lived, how we were fed, how our own nature emerged. identity, how it was transformed and how our Creole cuisine emerged. A whole process of transformation and tastes of the palate, how it gradually changes, replaces and adapts to our way of being and our climate.

All the contributions that that ajiaco brought to our way of doing things, as well as products that were introduced and adapted to our palate; those that disappeared and gave rise to others.

I refer to the book by Don Fernando Ortiz, where he refers to that

cultural ajiaco that is Cuba

. That great pot, where different cultures mix and results in our own identity, in all its cultural manifestations, including our cuisine; without belittling our culture and way of life of our aborigines. At least something is preserved from them, the casabe, which was then an important source of food, and later also for the conquerors, despite the fact that at first it was not very well received.

Over time , cassava

became an important source of food for the journey between the New and Old Worlds. At a time when wheat was unknown in our land, it came to be considered

“our daily bread.”

But we have other foods that the aborigines harvested and that were a source of food such as cassava, sweet potato, corn, taro, the foliage of some plants, among others. According to many, there are more Aboriginal dishes than one thinks, as well as a wide range of Aboriginal vessels and implements that have survived to this day, including the burén, the stone mortar, vessels made with güira and others.

With the Spanish conquerors they arrived in Cuba with their products and species.

Cattle, cattle, goats and pigs, as well as chickens, pigeons, and guanajos. Beans and chickpeas, olive oil, ham, vinegar, wine, wheat, olives. Spices such as cinnamon, pepper, anise, saffron, nutmeg, garlic, onion, among others. They also bring their very marked Arab influence. Initially, its culture predominated, which was seen in the first cookbooks of the 19th century, and little by little the transformations were seen, especially in the seasoning when making dishes. Remaining - and very pleasant - are a series of sweets that are rooted in our culture and perhaps with some change, such as torrejas, custards, cakes, among others.

The African slaves who are brought to Cuba through the slave trade contribute their ways of doing things with all the elements they have in their hands. According to Ciro Bianchi, Nitza Villapol claimed that

it was the black cooks who - essentially - gave the different touch when it came to cooking.

In reality, it is the slave traffickers who bring elements such as guinea fowl, pumpkin, yam, various plants and seeds, as well as implements to facilitate the work, such as the pylon.

The black will be very well received in the kitchens of the masters for its well-earned reputation for know-how, contributing and leaving traces with its seasoning and flavor, both in the kitchen, where they prepared dishes with what they had available, but with their touch. ; It is where our Creole cuisine begins to emerge. In addition, his Afro-Cuban touch will also be present in the pastries.

From France, through the Haitian Revolution, its culture comes to us, and along with it lemon, oregano, its coffee culture, and pastries.

From China, with the trade in Chinese coolies who come to replace black slaves, they come to us for their skill, expertise and mastery in manual labor, vegetables, rice cultivation, cooking, and, with their skill for commerce, inns.

From Mexico, we get cocoa, that other nectar to be tasted, chocolate, as well as avocado, beans; among other products that help enrich our kitchen.

And so, all countries have left their grain of sand in the formation of our culture. No less important are the English with their good customs and good habits at the table, who came to refine Cuban cuisine a little.

I had nothing to write about and now I lack lines to continue. So I will return to the topic another time. I hope it is of interest, and the recipes are useful.

Today I bring you: Fried or gratin eggplant sticks, rice medallion and chicken with eggplant.

Fried or gratin eggplant sticks

Fried or gratin eggplant sticks.

Ingredients (4 Servings)

:

Two eggplants, ½ cup of wheat flour, oil as needed for frying, pepper and salt to taste.

Preparation:

Clean, wash, chop into wheels and then make sticks with the eggplant.

In a deep bowl, put the sifted flour, mix it with pepper and salt.

Heat a saucepan with the oil until it is hot. Dip the sticks in this flour and fry them until golden brown. Take them out and serve them hot accompanied by a sauce of your choice.

Note:

If you want to make them gratin, when they are fried, put them on a previously greased baking tray, add ½ cup of grated cheese and put them in the oven for a few minutes until the cheese melts and the eggplant sticks are gratin.

rice medallions

Rice medallions.

Ingredients (Various services):

Two cups of cooked rice, 2 tablespoons of melted butter or oil, 1 onion, 4 garlic cloves, 1 chili, ½ sprig of parsley, ½ cup of grated cheese, ¼ cup of flour, 1 egg, 1 cup of breadcrumbs, pepper and salt to taste.

Preparation:

Clean and chop the onion very finely. Clean and macerate the garlic. Clean, wash and chop the chili very finely. Clean, wash and finely chop the parsley.

Put a saucepan on the stove with the butter or oil, onion, garlic, chili, salt, let it fry, then add rice, mix everything. Add the parsley, season with pepper and salt to taste. Lower it.

Make balls with the rice and make a hole in the center of each ball, filling it with cheese; close it. Pass them first in flour, then in beaten egg and finally in breadcrumbs. Flatten them to make the medallion. You can put them in the oven on a previously greased tray or you can fry them in hot oil until they turn golden brown.

Chicken with eggplant

Chicken eggplants.

Ingredients (4 Servings)

:

Two thighs, 2 eggplants, ½ cup of tomato puree, ½ spoon of cumin, 2 leaves of oregano, 1 leaf of coriander, 6 cloves of garlic, 1 onion, 1 pepper, ½ bunch of parsley, 1 teaspoon of dry wine , 2 tablespoons of oil, pepper and salt to taste.

Preparation:

Clean, wash, bone and dice the chicken. Clean, wash, chop the eggplant into rounds and then into strips. Clean, wash and finely chop the oregano and coriander. Clean and macerate the garlic. Clean and chop the onion into wheels. Clean, wash and chop the pepper into strips. Wash and finely chop the parsley.

Put a saucepan on the stove with the oil, garlic, onion, oregano and coriander, cumin, salt, let it fry, then add the chicken cubes, then the eggplant, stir everything well. Dot it with pepper and salt, add the dry wine, the puree, cover it with water and leave it on the candle over low heat to cook, stirring until the liquid is reduced and is to your liking, cover it with the parsley. Take it down and serve hot.

Eggplant.