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A Crisis Of Missiles…

On October 22, 1962, President Of The United States John Kennedy addressed the nation about the status of an ongoing situation on the island of Cuba. It was believed that the Soviet Union were bringing nuclear missiles to Cuba in order to have prime firing positions on US targets…

What followed was a stand-off between the world’s biggest two nuclear super powers which lasted 13 days and brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. The aftermath of this event would define the next 60 years of Cuban life, brought upon by a trade embargo which still stands today.

 

A Little History:

Settlement:

The island of Cuba, (which was inhabited by natives at the time) was first discovered by Europeans in 1492 by Christopher Columbus and promptly claimed for Spain. It would remain under Spanish control for the next 400 years.

During the Independence Wars in Latin America, Cuba remained loyal to it’s Spanish conquerors, mostly because of its strong trade ties and the protection provided by Spanish ships from pirates. This period of Spanish loyalty wouldn’t last however, and culminated in 1868 with the beginning of a fight for independence known as the Ten Years War. The war would end with a treaty and no clear victory for either side. During the next few years, Abolition of slavery in Cuba would come to pass (1880’s), and an exile named Joseph Marti would establish the Cuban Revolution Party in hopes of obtaining Cuba’s independence from Spanish rule. This would culminate in the War of 1985, and the death of Marti (who would become one of Cuba’s national heroes).

During the war, the military ruler of Cuba sent hundreds of thousands of Cubans to what were called concentrados, or concentration camps. Between 200 and 400 thousand Cubans died in these “fortified towns” from starvation and malnourishment.

Independence:

After the Spanish-American War, Spain lost control of many of its territories, including Cuba. Theodore Roosevelt (the US president at the time) recognized the island nations independence from rule in 1902 and the Republic of Cuba was formed. It is interesting to note that during this time, Guantanamo Bay was leased from Cuba for US military use.

This new found independence came with strings, however. The US retained the right to intervene in Cuban affairs and also financial and foreign relations. The US only replaced the Spanish with their own dictators, including Fulgencio Batista.The following is an excerpt from the website Captivating Cuba.

Batista was largely unconcerned by the needs of Cuban people, and instead made Cuba the 1950’s playground of the United States. Many famous people visited the island at this point in Cuba’s history, and the Nacional Hotel in Havana became the center of this party playground. There was, however, also investment from the American underworld in gambling, corruption and drugs, and Cuban land was sold to overseas investors taking money away from the people.

Fidel Castro:

A young, charismatic leader named Fidel Castro led a military force into the capital on January 8, 1959. His mission was to overthrow the US backed dictator and to drive any US related interests out of Cuba for good. Financial problems and the trade embargo imposed by the US during Castro’s early years in power did all but grantee that Cuba would turn to Communist led nations for support, and Castro quickly aligned himself with the Soviet Union and China.

During this time there were many failed attempts to overthrow Castro, including a particularly famous operation known as the “Bay Of Pigs”, in which Cuban Militia troops trained by the CIA led an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Castro.

It was also during this time that the now infamous Cuban Missile Crisis would take place. The tensions of that event and the embargo are still fresh on the minds of Cubans, who wish to see a new era take place and to see the long awaited lifting of the trade restrictions imposed almost 50 years ago.

 

The Recipe:

IMG_2010Today’s recipe is one of the most simple we have cooked so far, but that doesn’t mean it’s not absolutely filled with flavor! It is also the first time we are going use the infamous spice, saffron, which is one of the most expensive items by weight in the entire world (more than gold, silver or diamonds). It takes about 40 hours of labor to pick just 1kg of saffron. You can find it in the spice section of your store for about 5-10 dollars depending on where you go. The other interesting ingredient in this dish are flame-grilled peppers, which you can find in jars or cans at your local supermarket

Ingredients: Serves 3-4

  • 600g Chicken (Breast or Thighs)
  • 1 Brown Onion
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 (400g) Can Diced Roma Tomatoes
  • 1 Cup (250ml) Chicken Stock
  • 3/4 Cup Long Grain Rice (Washed)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley (about 1 bunch)

Method:

The first step is to get all of your ingredients prepared. Chop the onion and garlic. place in a bowl by itself. Then Chop the chicken into cubes. Combine all of the spices together in a bowl and set aside. Wash the rice and measure out the chicken stock.

Heat up oil in a large saucepan. fry the onion and garlic until soft (about 3-4 minutes). Then add the chicken and fry until brown on all sides. Add the spices and fry about 1 more minute until fragrant. Now pour in the can of diced tomatoes, the chicken stock and the rice and stir through. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.

While this is boiling, chop the parsley and cut the peppers into smaller pieces. After the 15 minutes have elapsed, add in the parsley, tomato paste and peppers to the pot. Stir it all together and continue to cook about 3-5 minutes or until the rice and chicken are both soft.

IMG_2006

Once you are satisfied the rice and chicken are done, serve into bowls or plates and enjoy!.

Further Reading:

Of course, Cuba is also a great place to visit. And no blog post would be complete without a cheesy travel video for you to watch!

 

Facts About Cuba:

  • Cuba has a literacy rate of over 99.8%
  • Cuba’s infant death rate is low even compared to more developed contires
  • They are the only nation in the world which meets the WWF’s definition of sustainable development, with an ecological footprint of less than 1.8 hectares per capita and a Human Development Index of over 0.8.
  • Some Cubans refer to their island as El Cocodrilo, because when viewed from above Cuba resembles a crocodile.
  • Cuba is the most populated Caribbean country with over 11 million inhabitants.
  • One Cuba’s most famous residents was Ernest Hemingway, who wrote “The Old Man and the Se” and “For Whom The Bell Tolls” while he was living in Cuba.
  • Cuba is only 90 miles away from American soil.
  • Cuba is obsessed with baseball and dominoes.
  • Cuba actually has one of the best health care systems in the world, with average life expectancy compatible with the UK.

Cuban Cigars:

Perhaps one of the most famous exports from this island nation are its famous cigars. Want to learn more than you should ever need to know about them…well watch the documentary below 🙂

 

Credits:

The original recipe we used was this recipe from taste.com.au.

ENJOY COOKING THE GLOBE!!!!

 

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