Log Cabin Chronicles

Leo

A Canuck in the land of Castro

PART 8
LEO GERVAIS
(Photographs by Edmond Wang)
Montreal
Posted 04.17.06

Roasting pigs and wrapping it up

I didn't have a scale anywhere, but I was pretty sure I'd gained five pounds. "Everything seems a little more snug!" screamed the Bermuda shorts as I got dressed to enjoy my last day in Cuba.

Let's see, could it have been the several dozen cervezas (beers) I'd consumed? The rum? What about last night's splendid dinner of filet mignon and lobster at the fancy restaurant on the resort with fellow Montrealers Steve and Madeleine?

Bloody Cubans, they're so nice they even gave us a free bottle of wine with the meal.

If you're someone who likes to dine, an all-you-can-eat-and-drink resort is the place for you. Everything was good here at Marea Del Portillo, but my favourite was lechon, or roasted pig.

Lechon is cooked in charcoal and is the national food of the Philippines. It was originally a Spanish cuisine and can be found in many other Hispanic countries, like Cuba.

Every day, about ten feet from the beach, you'll find a couple of cooks and their buddies cooking the meat for the day's suppertime meal - sometimes chicken, beef, or lechon. As you walk along the beach, the tantalizing smell is incredible, reducing all who smell it to a Pavlovian dinner guest, visualizing its eating with great anticipation.

I wandered up to the cooking spit and asked the cook a few questions about cooking the lechons (there were two on the spit), both being carefully turned by hand over the fire. He asked me if I would like to try turning them - so I did.

barbecue

There is some skill involved -- turning too slowly will result in drying out some parts and going to fast does not allow the heat to penetrate the flesh enough.

The cook and I joked about how I might be able to work in the kitchen if I kept improving and we toasted my newfound skill with several cervezas since the heat from the spit had left us terribly parched…

I have eaten lechon many times in Manila, but I can say unequivocally the Cuban version I had was definitely better.

Memento Vivere

Memento vivere. Remember to live. Those Romans sure knew what they were talking about.

After a week among the Cubans enjoying the beaches, sun, food. and the sea, I felt remarkably good. I bought some cigars to supplement my guilty pleasure of Friday night poker games, some souvenirs for my beautiful Hetty and a few friends, and received a soul full of good cheer from this wonderful place.

beach

As I walked along the white sand beach of Cayo Blanca, a popular one-day excursion from the resort for the princely sum of $5, I simply enjoyed it. No thinking, no contemplating… just a walk in the sunshine on a beautiful beach on the final day of a winter vacation that began with me looking at a snow bank in Montreal.

I enjoyed this trip very much. And I thank you, dear reader, for taking the time to walk in the sun with me, even if just for a few steps.

But I have only shown you the label on the bottle - Cuba is a delicious wine that needs to be savoured and consumed until you're completely satiated.

Then you should drink a little more…

We spend a lot of our days worrying about our lives and the lives of others, and we tend to think the world is the news we read and watch.

Leo

It's not. We need to find places that bring us happiness where we can enjoy ourselves, and just be. A place like Cuba.
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Copyright © 2006 Leo Gervais/Log Cabin Chronicles/04.06