Test kitchen manager Juli Roberts celebrates summer with a barbecue featuring the bold flavors and bright colors of her mother’s native country.
My mother was born in Cuba, but fled the island country with her mom and her sister in 1959. She’s always shared her heritage with us through food and through connections with the large Cuban community in Queens, New York, where my brother and I grew up. When we were kids, my parents would take us to Cuban gatherings in Flushing Meadows Park, where we’d gorge on traditional foods.
Now that I’m married with kids of my own, I’m the one who hosts our multigenerational family gatherings, serving the same dishes we enjoyed in Flushing Meadows, like a refreshing pineapple and avocado salad and congri, the most soothingly delicious food you’ll ever eat, even though it’s simply beans and rice.
The centerpiece of the meal is a slow-cooked pork shoulder bathed in a garlicky, citrusy mojo, which could be called Cuba’s national sauce. The rest of the meal is served family-style. As the platters are passed around, there are a dozen different conversations going on, yet somehow everyone’s involved in all of them. It gets a little quieter only when the plates are full and we’re too busy eating to talk (at least not quite as much, anyway).