Jun 7, 2007

The smell of Cuban stuff

(Esta es la calle Isabel Rubio, la calle principal de Guane. La casa de abuela Paula estaba como en el centro, a la izquierda, con un portal de lado a lado).

I know it might sound odd, but the way Cuban things smells is very special; it's unique.

And even when most of us —specially Cubans living far away from Cuba— may be take those smells for granted every day, they are part of our identity. They have followed us wherever we have gone. They are stuck in our memories, in our houses and, ¡sobre todo en nuestras cocinas!

There are not Glade, AirWick or any of those nice-fragances-new-diffusers that can take away the smell of a pierna de puerco que se está asando en una cazuela, or the sticky aroma of the sofrito para los frijoles negros.

I, for example, live by the memories of the smells in my abuela Paula house, in Guane. It doesn't matter that the town is in casa de you know who, almost where Pinar del Río ends, and closer to México that to Cuba itself. But I love it.

Even today —Abuela Paula passed away when I was 13, and still living in Cuba. I couldn't go back to Guane after she died. I think Mom and I made a quick-adventurous trip, but we stayed in someone else's house — I just can not imagine going to Guane and not walking from the portal, thought the hall, knowing that at the end, abuela would have the usual café acabado de hacer, the leftover of malangas con mantequita de puerco, and the bread.

!OMG, that bread! I remember she called it "pan the manteca". I don't why, but it was soooooo delicious! Nothing to compare with the prepackaged-weird-tasting bread we used to be fed in Havana in those years.

Now that I'm consciously trying to think about it, I can not describe the smell of abuela Paula house.
It was warm, and mixed with the crispy white linens and ropones de dormir, and the galán de noche flowers that were always sneaking through the huge living room window.

And the smell of the recently hosed down bricks in the floor of the portal!
Impossible to describe.
Impossible to forget.
Impossible not to imagine if my Nicolás would have had the chance to thrive to hit he road and go to Guane the way I always did.

Only if he would have had the chance to try the café con leche y pan con mantequilla sentado en un taburete en la mesa de la terraza, or getting his first tasting of café, on a pacifier holded by those old, arthritis deformed and working hands of abuela Paula.

Only if...

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