NPR’s food blog, The Salt, has a fascinating profile on Cedric Fernando, co-owner of Cuba’s only Indian restaurant. The mission of his restaurant, Bollywood, is to take down the following (quite frequent) question: “Why doesn’t Cuba have any good spicy restaurants?” A Briton of Sri Lankan descent now transplanted to Havana, Fernando seems to be giving the city’s culinary scene just the spicy jolt it needed. Bollywood, which opened last December to exactly zero customers, has taken off as of late. Us visiting won’t do much to change the clientele, apparently – the restaurant seems to cater mostly to foreigners living in Havana and tourists – but hopefully locals will develop a taste for some of the heat that, in our opinion, is all too lacking in Cuban cuisine!
Tag Archives: Havana
Photographer Ellen Silverman did a wonderful photo series called “Spare Beauty: The Cuban Kitchen,” documenting kitchens around Havana, Cuba, and NPR did a short piece about the project. I’m definitely impressed by the ingenuity and personality of these kitchens. You can see the entire photo series on Silverman’s website.
In many countries the water and gas industries are nationalized. But how about the ice cream industry? Well, that’s the case of Coppelia, the official ice cream of Cuba. After the revolution, ice cream could not be imported, so Cuba created a homegrown alternative. Every town in Cuba has a Heladería Coppelia, but the centerpiece of the Coppelia empire is located in Havana. The Havana Coppelia building is a mid-century marvel, made of colored glass in steel, and designed by Mario Girona 1966. The whole complex takes up nearly an entire block in the Vedado district of Havana and seats over 700. The Girona building rose to some fame after it appeared in Tomás Gutiérez Alea’s 1994 film Fresa y chocolate (Strawberries and Chocolate).
What is interesting is that there are in fact 2 lines at the Havana Coppelia, one for tourists who are paying dollars, and one for locals paying in pesos. Needless to say the tourist line tends to move faster. When Coppelia first opened it boasted more flavors than Baskin Robbins at the time, though a selection 2 or 3 flavors a day is the standard nowadays. The logo of Coppelia stores are ballerina legs, as seen above, surely a reference to the ballet Coppelia.