Would you like fries with that?

30 Jun

March 15, 2012

Cuba is exceptionally progressive for Latin America. It has more females in higher education than males and is well on the way to legalizing gay marriage. But despite these moves forward, there are parts of it that are charmingly timeless.

Let me take you to one of my favorite timeless places in Cuba, La Casa de Fatima.



Tucked away on a side street near the beach off of Fifth Avenue, Fatima’s is an eatery you can only get to if you know where to look.



When you walk through the green chicken wire gate, you’ll wave to the couple sitting in rocking chairs on their porch, probably reminiscing about the days when horses and carriages were the preferred method of transportation.




You’ll round the corner and immediately forget everything but your own name as 40s music wafts out of a cassette player.


Smile and greet our unofficial grandmother,who always asks about our classes and the plans for the weekend (p.s. I promise usually she doesn’t look this terrifying).


Fatima’s is one of many magical places where you can spend national pesos. The most expensive thing on the menu is a double cheeseburger for 60 CUPs, which is approximately $2.40.


It’s an old time soda fountain with a tropical twist. The burgers are simple and delicious but the coup de grace  is the batidos.




If angels cried, their tears would be batidos. Batido means milkshake in Cuba, but Fatima’s batidos don’t have ice cream in them. They’re a mixture of ice, powdered milk, sugar and seasonal fruit. They’re light and fluffy, that sweet spot between a smoothie and whipped cream, with a tiny bit of crunch from sugar that tastes like it just came off the cane.



I’ve yet to see a Styrofoam cup in Cuba. Batidos come in a cold glass mug or cup that would be considered retro and vintage in the U.S. but are commonplace in Cuba . For 10 CUPs (approximately $0.40) you get a sweating glass of frothy goodness that is the perfect beginning, end, accompaniment or replacement for a meal. It’s best enjoyed precariously perched on the chair sized rocks while listening to a soundtrack of the batidora (blender) and the cacaraqueo (that’s Spanish for chirping) of the birds. Salud.



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