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No Reservations: Cuba

My wife was part of a Cuban immigration wave in 1961 and her attitudes are similar to those Tony referenced to the Miami Cubans. Her whole family is still pretty hard core when it comes to the Cuban government. I thought she was going to go off on Tony but she enjoyed the episode and thought he did a good, fair presentation. From my perspective; I found it to be an interesting and entertaining No Res. I particularly liked the baseball features.

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  1. Our house was mass chaos last night, so I only got to see parts of it. From what I saw the food looked great. Bourdain seems to struggle with being able to eat so well while surrounded by those who can't. Not only in Cuba, but Haiti and Nicaragua as well. He often asks those who he is with about this, of course no one can give a good answer. Something along the lines of "Is it OK for tourists to eat in a place that costs a month's salary for those who actually live here?" Well, maybe it does help put some food on more tables....

    I also like the cars.

    1 Reply
    1. re: chileheadmike

      I didn't see the show but I'll have to find it now. I agree with Bourdain's discomfort. I felt guilty everytime I ate anything at all in Cuba. Why did I, as a tourist, have the right to choose any food I wanted in any quantity I wanted when the locals barely have anything? Did the show go into any Cuban "supermarkets?" I use the term loosely because they make a C-store look like gourmet paradise. However, every meal I ate in a non-tourist location was wonderful. The Cubans have had far too much practice making the most out of very little and they do a great job with it. The tourist restaurants were pretty miserable, though. They serve someone's idea of what they think a drunk European might want to eat. Ick.

      But yes. All of it is highly guilt inducing. The only salve is that workers in the tourist industry make far more than your average Cuban since they get tipped in hard currency and it helps put some money into their economy.

    2. Coming from the perspective of knowing almost nothing about Cuba, I enjoyed the introduction.

      I thought the guys who had licenses to argue in the park was hilarious. I guess anywhere else you don't need a license to argue about the minutia of any topic, just an internet connection.

      1. I am a huge fan of Tony and love nearly all of his shows. I was really looking forward to the show on Cuba. However, I was sorely disappointed.

        I guess I expected too much from the show because recently I had seen a rerun on public television of Mariel Hemingway's 2005 visit there titled Hemingway's Cuba.

        Mariel really surprised me in that program as I thought she out-Bourdained Bourdain. Mariel was able to move through Cuba effortlessly and casually visiting her grandfather's haunts. Speaking fluent Spanish Mariel was able to easily intermingle with the locals and sample the local food and drink. Her show really got me interested in visiting Cuba, unfortunately that trip fell through. Tony's episode on Cuba didn't reinvigorate me and I don't desire to see the places he saw or sample the food he sampled

        2 Replies
        1. re: gilbertdoubleg

          To veer a little off topic, that's how I felt about his Korea episode - only I've been to Korea before. I wouldn't be surprised if that epi didn't inspire too many people to buy a ticket to Seoul.

          1. re: gilbertdoubleg

            I liked it, but I'd also have to say it wasn't quite as good as the Cuba episode of Chinese restaurants:

            http://chineserestaurants.tv/episodes...

          2. I felt that Bourdain chickened out on what might have been his usual level of political commentary because he knew he would have to face a VERY bitter and vocal Cuban American population once the show aired.

            I personally have no interest in baseball, so that part of the show wasn't that meaningful for me.

            I thought the discussion of private industry, including that one woman's housetauraunt, was interesting. But mostly what stuck with me was thinking 200 people a day, one little residential bathroom, and stick to your ribs Cuban food. OY. :|

            3 Replies
            1. re: inaplasticcup

              I found this episode to be extremely boring, except for the house restaurant story. The show just didn't flow well or something. And there was way too much baseball!

              1. re: Rheta

                It may have been too much baseball for you, but obviously baseball is hugely important to the Cuban people. Have you ever seen anyone other than relatives at a little league ball game in the US? That crowd was bigger than some MLB teams pull. Anyplace that has licensed baseball arguers is REALLY into baseball! I liked the episode, both because I'm a baseball fan, and a Bourdain fan. It really is amazing to see all those old cars, and all the food (obviously not what the average Cuban is getting) looked really good, especially those beans.

                1. re: kimfair1

                  Track down the documentary "Yank Tanks." It's about how the Cubans treasure their American cars and have resorted to all sorts of ingenious ways to repair and rebuild them, including making otherwise unavailable parts by hand.

            2. I enjoyed the Cuba episode as well. And frankly, I think the rest of you naysayers really have to cut the guy some slack. I mean think about it, really. He's trying to please all of the people all of the time, & we all know that that's not humanly possible. I loved this show, but there have been others that I haven't enjoyed as much. It's always going to be a personal issue. Bourdain always being Bourdain however, is always going to be a bright point, even if one doesn't always agree with him or enjoy the way his producers have set up the episode.

                1. I hope to catch it on a re-run. The food in Cuba is monotonous and dull: if Bourdain managed to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, cheers to him. And if a paladar becomes successful, it is usually shut down.
                  The cuban food in Miami is way better than in Cuba.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Veggo

                    I caught the re-run last night. About what I expected; beans and rice with every meal, one chicken dish, one pork dish, one fish dish (which are not common because nobody is allowed a fishing boat), one high profile paladar, probably well connected. The old cars on back roads are neat, yes, but the now-old boxy articulated russian busses belching diesel exhaust are on every avenue. They skipped that part.

                    It would have been fair to cover less baseball and more of what the women there like to do, and do well: DANCE. They are smokin' hot at the salsa clubs.