Now on display: colloquium highlights handmade books inspired by Ediciones Vigía

We invite you to view an exhibition of handmade books currently on display on the second floor of the Otto G. Richter Library. These books are the work of students in Professor Mia Leonin’s Introduction to Poetry class (English 292, Fall 2012), inspired by books in the Ediciones Vigía Collection at the Cuban Heritage Collection. Using the Vigías as examples, and with the expert help of Carol Todaro, a local artist specializing in book making, the students created their own books based on their experiences and interests.

What We Found Here: Miami Obscura, and Ruth Behar's Everything I Kept/Todo lo que guardé

What We Found Here: Miami Obscura, and Ruth Behar’s Everything I Kept/Todo lo que guardé (2001)

As part of the CHC Research Colloquia, Leonin and Todaro presented on February 22nd about their experience using Vigía as a teaching tool in the Introduction to Poetry class last semester. Both professors could not be more pleased with the outcome of their classroom experiment.

“It was love at first site for me,” explained Leonin as she described her interaction with the Ediciones Vigía handmade books made in Matanzas, Cuba. Her artisanal approach to poetry writing, which she encourages her students to practice, involves allowing the archives to enter through all the senses and be expressed in the final literary product. The Vigías fit this model perfectly as each book possesses a distinct smell, feel and visual intrigue.

Over the course of six weeks last fall, the students were free to explore their own ideas about themes and topics while the professors offered advice on elemental book structure and guidance when needed. The result was a medley of works of all shapes, sizes and colors, much like the Ediciones Vigía books themselves.

“We just opened up a floodgate for these students to have a reason to make these books they’d always wanted to make,” explained Todaro.

Also on exhibit is What We Found Here: Miami Obscura, a collaborative class project inspired by Ruth Behar’s Everything I Kept/Todo lo que guardé, published by Ediciones Vigía in 2001.


Mia Leonin and Carol Todaro with a selection of Ediciones Vigía

Mia Leonin and Carol Todaro with a selection of Ediciones Vigía after their presentation.

Tell us: where do you get your Cuban food fix?

Arroz con pollo, Versailles Restaurant in Miami

Arroz con pollo, Versailles Restaurant in Miami

As part of the latest CHC exhibit, “Food and Memory: An exploration of Cuban cooking, 1857-today,” and with the current prevalence of food photography thanks to mobile apps like Instagram, we want to know: where do you get your Cuban food fix? We’re especially interested in hearing about the unexpected places you’ve found Cuban food, from a Parisian alley to a street corner in Pasadena.

Send us an email to with a photo and description of where you’ve found your fix. We’ll be posting submissions over the next few months. To whet your appetite, here are a few images we found in our archives.


Cuba Libre Restaurant, New York City

Cuba Libre Restaurant, New York City


What’s cookin’: plátanos three ways

Guest post by Amanda Moreno, CHC Processing Assistant

As a complement to our new exhibit, “Food and Memory: An exploration of Cuban cooking, 1857-today,” we are rolling out a new weekly series on Cuban recipes, past and present. From classic cocktails and cafecitos to traditional arroz con pollo and much stranger fare (read: blood), we will take you on a culinary journey that explores the delicacies of Cuban cuisine.

In our inaugural post, we focus on three different preparations of a classic Cuban ingredient, the plátano.


This plantain mash is of West African origin, introduced into the Cuban diet by way of the 18th century slave trade to the Caribbean. Fufu is still eaten in West and Central Africa as an accompaniment to nut and vegetable soups, with plantains substituted for cassava or yams as they are the more readily available starchy vegetables in the region; the Caribbean version is less doughy than its African counterpart. The name of the dish varies throughout the Caribbean, known as mangú in the Dominican Republic and mofongo in Puerto Rico.

In José Triay’s Nuevo manual del cocinero criollo (1914), the author suggests pairing fufú with quimbombó á la Criolla, his recipe for okra. Fufú is prepared by boiling peeled malanga and plantains in salt water and kneading the mash into balls. Triay’s Fufú criollo switches out malanga for yams and adds a butter-based sauce with tomatoes, sweet peppers, onions and sesame seeds.

Sopa de plátanos verdes

Recetas útiles de cocina (1982, pg. 4) offers a recipe for plantain soup, quoted below.


1 ½ plátanos verdes

1 ¼ de litros de caldo

1 limón


Pele los plátanos y lávelos con la mitad del limón, luego échelos en ¼ de litro de caldo y cocínelos hasta que estén blandos. Aplástelos en el mortero con 2 cucharadas del caldo restante, y cuando estén como un puré incorpórelos al caldo que queda. Por último, agrégueles una cucharada de jugo de limón y déjelos hervir durante ½ hora.

Plátanos maduros fritos

María Antonieta Reyes Gavilán y Moenck’s recipe for plátanos fritos is as short as it is sweet:

“Se elige el plátano bien maduro; esto se conoce al tacto porque el plátano debe estar muy suave, se le quita la cáscara y se parten en lascas finas a la larga; se fríen en manteca abundante y a fuego vivo, deben quedar dorados” (Delicias de la mesa: Manual de Cocina y Repostería, 1957, pg. 399).