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A Truly DC “Arroz Con Mango”

Featured in today's Washington Post Express newspaper.

When it comes to U.S.-Cuba matters, I’ve seen a lot in this area since I moved here in the 1990s. Some of it serious, others  like this latest gem, downright bizarre. These people are either totally ignorant or, more likely, are going out of their way to make a political statement that they do not support U.S. economic sanctions on the Cuban regime.

The owners of Cuba Libre — a place one does not go to if you wish to try authentic Cuban cuisine — are hosting Chefs from Cuba to razzle dazzle DC-area foodies. ¿Que? The event is titled, Pop Up Paladeres. Follow this link if you want to learn more about what Paladares are all about.

This takes “people to people” contact under U.S. law to a whole new level. Frankly, I am not sure that this is a proper use of general license authorities under the Cuban Assets Control Regulations.  And, guess what, later this year for a paltry $4,500 you can travel to Cuba in April to partake in a “Pop Up Paladar” in Havana.

This is truly surreal.  Folks in Cuba can barely make ends meet, much less, well, eat. Lobster? Boar chops? Likely never seen any of this on a Cuban table these days in Cuba (nor in Miami by the way). Events such as these are made-to-order for DC these days. There are political prisoners on hunger strike in Castro’s jails — some have already died. Here is the latest one, very close to death. Then again, most folk in this town have no idea whats happening outside the beltway, much less in an island 90 miles from U.S. shores.

For my friends in the area, my hope is that you save your money and not dine at Cuba Libre Restaurant. I made the mistake of trying this place in Philly a few years ago because a client had invited. I kept my counsel. The food was not good and, as I learned at the restaurant, the politics even worse.

P.S., “Arroz Con Mango,” literally means Rice with Mango. It is a Spanish expression I grew up hearing meaning, what a mess … kind of the Obama Administration’s policy in Latin America, Cuba included.

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