The first book to tell the mesmerizing story of the new Cuban cuisine. A narrative and visual feast from James Beard Award–winning writer Anya von Bremzen and photographer Megan Fawn Schlow—with more than 100 vibrant recipes.
Cuba is experiencing a cultural and culinary renaissance—and its paladares, the private restaurants, are leading the way. Paladares is a fascinating culinary and visual journey through the new Cuba. Born in Soviet Russia in the era of shortages, award-winning writer Anya von Bremzen brings a unique perspective to the stories that Cuba’s chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, and food historians share with her. She eavesdrops on passionate arguments about black beans and tamales; pries Daiquirí secrets from legendary El Floridita (Hemingway’s watering hole); guides us to vibrant agros (markets) and visionary organic farms. We learn of Fidel’s obsession with cows, milk, and ice cream. We hear wrenching memories of the Período Especial, the years of terrible privation after Soviet aid vanished. We meet colorful expats who fell for Cuba and ended up opening restaurants—and local hipsters who obsess over global culture gleaned solely from foreign movies and magazines. Fawn Schlow’s evocative photographs frame it all with the ramshackle glamour of old Havana, Cuba’s stunning countryside, dishes that are earthy and innovative, and Cuba’s incredible people.
The more than 100 recipes in Paladares are as intriguing as the characters behind them. Traditional Cuban bean pots, saucy picadillo, crunchy fritters, soulful tamales, Roast Chicken Stuffed with Black Beans and Rice—and a Gulf Stream of cocktails—are all featured here. But the recipes also reflect the current aspiration of Cuban cooks to finally catch up with the world through dishes such as Pumpkin Soup with Blue Cheese, Ceviche with Mango and Black-Eyed Peas, or Coffee-Rubbed Pork. Cuba’s culinary culture is being reborn, and Paladares joyously savors this revolution.
Anya von Bremzen is a James Beard Award–winning cookbook author, food historian, and travel writer.
Megan Fawn Schlow is a photographer, recipe developer, and food stylist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Bon Appétit, and other publications. They both live in New York City.
“This amazing cookbook shares the challenges and triumphs of some of the most innovative and improvising chefs in the world. Through the ingredients and techniques, you can begin to understand more about this incredible country and its people.”
— José Andrés
“Cuban food authorities call their home ‘this country of inventors,’ and this exhaustively researched and gorgeously photographed book reveals how necessity sparked culinary magic. . . . I hope this book inspires greater understanding between the United States and Cuba . . . I know it will inspire us all to get cooking!”
— Ted Allen
“Filled with intimate sketches of the people behind paladares, and beautifully photographed food you can’t wait to make, Anya von Bremzen and Megan Fawn Schlow capture the surreal and confounding contradictions of present-day Cuba with remarkable insight. Your mind will race ahead to imagine the possibilities for an island forever on the verge.”
— Ana Sofía Peláez
“In Paladares, Anya von Bremzen and Megan Fawn Schlow show us the unique intersection of cultures, history, and geography that define the home cooking of Cuba as elevated within a closed-door restaurant. Illicit, familiar, and exotic, these recipes stand on their own but also together to capture a moment in time when the paladar is ushering in a new set of standards by which Cuban cuisine will come to be known.”
— Alex Raij
“Paladares captures the spirit of the country.”
— Zarela Martinez
"Von Bremzen...has a gift for illuminating the irrepressible humanity in communist food cultures, and her storytelling here adds deep nuance like a good sofrita in a pot of black beans."
— The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Gaining kitchen-door access to paladares, the privately owned restaurants that must navigate both the government and a crazy black market to survive, seems like a cheat code. It’s like discovering a secret passageway inside a secret passageway."
— Drew Lazor, author of Session Cocktails: Low-Alcohol Drinks for Any Occasion