I made old clothes for dinner tonight.
The kids loved it.
Ropa Vieja, in Spanish, which I don’t speak.
In Cuba, where I’ve never been.
That got me thinking.
Tuesday’s meal came to us
Beef and olives arrived
From Andalusia, not far
Behind the slave ships.
American novelists and gangsters
Made the island exotic
For the suburban Yanqui
And turned a recipe
Into an emblem
That’s all the more startling
For its embargo of hypocrisy.
I needed the contrapuntal,
So, into my pot with the bay leaves,
Cumin, tomatoes, and vinegar
Went a half-millennium’s wisdom
That wasn’t mine.
I felt the chains slip a bit,
Creating a space to reclaim some joy
In the awareness of our plates.
Eating well may be the best revenge,
But are you really eating if
All you can do is taste your food?