During this time my father was in a labor camp, for the crime of wanting to leave the country. Alone, and with few provisions, as my mother struggled to care for us, she was struck with inspiration. One day she went out to the back patio to do the wash and saw a cute little frog sitting by the door to the kitchen. My mother has always liked frogs, and this little frog by the kitchen door gave her an idea...
My father and I were very close, but I did not always get along with my mother, so even though she was a marvelous cook, I had never been interested in learning her cooking secrets. However, after my father’s death, I witnessed my mother’s severe deterioration and overwhelming sadness. Looking for a way to engage her, I had the idea to ask her to teach me how to cook like her...
In Cuba BC (before Castro) we celebrated with a "Cena de Nochebuena", a wonderful feast which took place late at night. Then we went to "La Misa del Gallo" or Midnight Mass and continued to celebrate the season until January 6th, El Dia de los Reyes Magos, when the Three Kings would bring presents to the children.
Fidel and his Communist comarades did not allow Christmas, because of that Religion thing totalitarians are so against. However, people stubbornly insisted on celebrating, even under Fidel's oppression and with very little to celebrate with. So the Communists cleverly scheduled other celebrations (harvest, the Revolution) for the same December dates. Just like the ancient Church scheduled Christmas celebration near the pagan winter solstice celebrations.
The neighbors had put together tables and old doors on top of barrels to create one huge table, covered with various table cloths, at which all the family could be seated. It was late at night and along with the one spot light at the corner of the roof, which poorly illuminated the concrete patio, there were kerosene lamps illuminating the faces of the people gathered together to celebrate. I thought they looked beautiful, as they laughed and enjoyed themselves.
1 Pork shoulder or Fresh Ham
Eat it with all the trimmings (yuca, tostones, frijoles negros, arroz, flan, etc), but most of all with family and friends!