Let them eat cake!
And cookies, and other sweets - "pastelitos," perhaps - delicious little flaky pastries stuffed with savory sweet fillings of guava or other tasty things, ground meat and such. You can find them at Cuban-style bakeries in Miami and other places filled with the Cuban presence, still.
Wash it all down with Jupina - tilde over the "n" - a sweet pineapple soft drink; or Materva, or Maltina, Coca-Cola, Pepsi,Cawy - another native soft drink; now made in the USA-whatever you like.
What is this leading to? Well, Cuba Nostalgia 2007 is "taking off" next week in Miami; inspired by that, and a significant anniversary for yours truly, decided to "gift" the long-suffering readership with a little personal "Cuba Nostalgia" of my own.
For, you see, this photograph, depicting an almost seven-year-old and his sister was taken at the garden level of the Focsa building on May 12, 1957.
Exactly 50 years ago as this is written, to be precise.
Then the party was on; I see little sis had her finger on the cake even before "Happy Birthday" was sung and the candles were blown out. Yes, we sang "Happy Birthday" at birthday parties in Havana and other Cuban places in those days. Whatever we wanted to sing, without frowning looks from bearded types.
Cousin Manny was nattily dressed in his white, long-sleeved shirt that day; cousin Gina, to my right-that would be your left, from your perspective, looks as if she's ready for the photo session to end so she can begin to party. Then there's the nice-looking lady in the spotted dress, smiling - Maria, or as we knew her, "Mari." From Spain she was; took excellent care of us - just like having another mother, and a beloved part of our family, though not related to us either by blood or marriage. In fact we "lost" her when she married, a couple of years later. And many years later, birthday boy heard she was in New York. If she could ever be found, it would be the greatest birthday present of all time - at least to this old kid and his sister.
The cake probably came from "La Gran Via," a well-known Havana bakery catering to the capital's sweet tooth. Any reader who has a copy of the 1958 Cuban Telephone Company directory should find this fine purveyor of cakes, breads, pastries and palatable delights within its pages. "La Gran Via" had a second - and successful - life in Miami, after the original enterprise was squelched by frowning, bearded types who hate it when you sing "Happy Birthday." Ah, well. Their loss, our gain.
Perhaps the cake was homemade and concocted with a set of fine Wecolite cake-making and baking aids, but this is unlikely; am pretty sure "La Gran Via" did the honors that 12th day of May, 1957. At least, there is no recollection of mother making a mess in the kitchen in the process of baking a cake.
The young 'uns sang "Happy Birthday," ate cake, drank soft drinks, ran around, screamed, smashed the pinata (tilde over the "n" again!) - yes, there was a pinata with those little flimsy favors inside we who have smashed one know so well. I wish I could get hold of our Time Travelers - you know, those guys and gals flying around into the Past and the Future, the Once and Future Cuba, in their unusually-equipped Delorean - if you have been reading this blog carefully you should be able to locate them - and travel with you back to that fun-filled day, fifty Mays ago. We'd have a great time. The kiddies would have to forego the beer for a day, though - since we'd all be under age. Then again, you might prefer Cawy, Materva, or Maltina.
Happy birthday, Tauruses of Havana and other provinces, the 50 states, and the whole world, for that matter. May someday another group of happy Cuban children and their loved ones celebrate their special day and sing "Happy Birthday" with abandon, or whatever they want to sing in whatever language they desire to sing it, on the once-again green grounds of the Focsa building.