Cooking with Billy Joel

By Nike

HAVANA TIMES – Yesterday, I woke up wanting to be happy. In order to stop anything from getting in the way of my happiness, the first thing I did was put on some music. I chose one of my favorite artists: Billy Joel.

One of the first things I usually do every morning is turn on the radio and tune into CMBF, the classical music radio station in Cuba. However, yesterday was different and I wanted my morning to be different.

My husband had left the house earlier in order to “struggle” for food for the day, as he says. Two hours later, he came back with some corn, cassava, pumpkin and a bunch of bananas. I cooked dancing, I had already peeled the root vegetables and washed the corncobs before one of the albums finished.

Listening to Billy while de-kernelling the corn, I remembered when Billy Joel came to Havana. The year was 1979, and he was playing with the Havana Jam project. I was a teenager and while I couldn’t go to see him, I remember the commotion his performance made among young fans of his music, who were able to go to see him because they managed to sneak in.

I also remember that many weren’t able to see the concert because the theater entrance was restricted to the farming sector, workers’ unions and the Young Communists Union. I don’t know whether Billy and his guests knew about this, but from what I heard, he was amazing. As far as I know it was the first performance of US artists in Cuba, in many years.

I cooked our lunch to the beat of Billy’s music. I made flour with the corn, for what we call “tamal en cazuela”, I made a puree with the bananas, which we call fufú, mashing the bananas and adding mojo de ajo (our popular garlic sauce). I boiled the pumpkin and then also added mojo de ajo. So, inspired by Billy and his “Piano Man” and his jazz, I made a very nutritious meal for my family.

With everything going on in the world and how hard things are in my country, Cuba, we have to listen to music and dance every now and again so we don’t lose our minds. Choose your favorite artist and dance! It is my advice for feeding your souls.

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