The sound comes from the pressure regulator dancing on top of the lid to the delicious tempo of her carne con papa, which is one of her signature Cuban dishes and when she serves it with white rice, black beans and plátanos maduros, it’s sure to make your taste buds as happy as your caderas following the beats of a Benny Moré Mambo.
Maria was born and raised in Miami, Florida, daughter to Cuban immigrants and though her birth certificate classifies her as American, when asked where she’s from, she’ll proudly say, Cuba. Maria didn’t just grow up in a Spanish speaking home, she grew up in a Cuban home. Where yes, her mother’s carne con papa made palettes water too. Her upbringing went beyond the Cuban cuisine, it was and still is today, about the cultura. Hence her olla de presión.
Every day, she’s Se Habla USA. Whether she’s in the kitchen, shopping at Navarro, getting croquetas from Vicky Bakery or reminding her 16-year-old son that “ cuando tú ibas ya yo venía.” It’s an orgullo that she carries close to her heart because though political policies kept Maria from meeting her grandparents until she was 24, she lives by Cuba’s traditions and blends them with her American ways. She loves Mötley Crüe but play any Celia song and her salsa hips break into uncontrollable dance. To Maria, it’s popping champagne bottles on New Year’s Eve, but also eating her 12 grapes and sipping from sidra because this tradition guarantees she’ll have a great year.
The beauty of this incredible duality is that Maria lives and enjoys two cultures. She responds to Mary and Mari, but to her family in Cuba and in Miami, she’s Mariaelenita and that is something she will forever carry in her bicultural heart.