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Nochebuena: A Merry Cuban Christmas!

Posted Dec 25 2010 12:00am

Merry Christmas!  I hope you’ve all had a great day so far and are relaxing with loved ones! 

Having grown up in New England, Christmas, to me, means a nip in the air, snow on the ground and spending the day huddled by a fire with a mug of hot chocolate in my hands.  I am a little out of my element here in Miami, where palm trees replace pine trees & there is sand instead of snow!

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I was having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit… until last night!  Every year our family here in Miami hosts a traditional Cuban Christmas Eve celebration.  The celebration is called Nochebuena, which translates to  “Good Night!”

And let me tell you, it was a VERY good night!   

The whole evening revolves around family & traditional Cuban dishes.  One of the appetizers was bacon-wrapped dates.  I’m not a date person normally, but these were so delicious – a perfect combination of salty & sweet flavors!

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I loaded up on 3 of my favorite Cuban staples:  arroz y frijoles, yuca and lechó n.

I made my arroz y frijoles, or rice and beans, into “arroz moro” by mixing them!

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Yuca con mojo, or yuca with garlic sauce, is one of my favorite Cuban sides.  It’s a root of a plant from North & Central America and has a consistency of a stringy potato when cooked.  It’s a starch that is boiled and drizzled with a sauce made from garlic, onion, lemon juice & olive oil.   YUM.

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The lechón is the feature dish at Nochebuena, it’s like our turkey at Thanksgiving!  The pig is often cooked outside in a Caja China,” a large box with hot coals, and the meat is shredded before serving. 

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This was my 2nd Nochebuena & it was so fun the festivities carried on until the wee hours of the morning!  Everyone made us feel so welcome.  I am recovering on the beach today and am off to Annapolis, Maryland tonight for one more week of winter vacation.  I get sun, sandy beaches and snow all in one day, lucky me!

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and enjoy some good times with family & food today! 

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