The Dodgers and The Cubanity

Disclaimer: This post contains an inordinate amount of selfie-type photos of me. Forgive me. I was so over-the-top excited about this night and being where I was and meeting who I met. It's a Cuban thing.

Imagine a stadium full of Cubans, all noisy and celebrating and munching on Dodger dogs. 


Picture them stopping to do the mandatory Cuban kiss thing.  "Oye! Hace tiempo!" Picture them talking loudly and laughing and sharing pastelitos de guayaba right there in the stands. 


Picture them dancing wildly when the Dodgers score.


Well, technically, they were already dancing, because Cubans, but that's not important right now.

Those were the sights and sounds of Cuba Night at Dodger Stadium on Monday, May 11th. 

As part of the Cuban Heritage Committee it was my great honor to help organize this fun event and work hand in hand with the Dodgers.

We were asked to "Please arrive at least an hour before the 7:10 game time."


Cuban Heritage Committee members -Frank Navarro, Rose Marin, Alina Bacallao, Betty Porto, Maylen Calienes, Marta Darby, Marislay Cedeño, Lucy Vega, Roland Vega

 These instructions seem simple enough, but I live over an hour south of LA, two if there's traffic, which means we had to leave a few hours before. Which meant that if I hoped to arrive at 6pm, we had to leave at 4pm.

Miraculously we did not encounter much traffic at all and flew up to Dodger Stadium in record time. and arrived before they were even letting people in. (Win!)

Amy and Jonathan drove with me while Lucy and boyfriend, Marc took the train. My sister, Alina would just meet us all there.



Things that are cool about entering Dodger Stadium via the Club Entrance:

1) That's where all the retired jerseys live. Of course, you recognize #42, the incomparable Jackie Robinson. How cool is that?


2) That's where real-life-Dodger-legends enter the stadium. Like legendary Dodger manager, Tommy Lasorda. I went full Fangirl on poor unsuspecting Tommy. Because...hello! Tommy Lasorda!


3) The First Pitch Thrower Outers also come in the Club Entrance. And because it was Cuban night, the first pitch for the event was thrown out by our own local Cuban legend, Mr. Andy Garcia. You will obviously understand the crazed Look-How-Close-I-Am-to-Andy-Garcia look on my face. 


The game hadn't even started and I was already crazy-happy. But then, the Dodgers were going to introduce some of us on the Cuban Heritage Committee, which meant we got to ACTUALLY BE DOWN ON THE FIELD. Somebody pinch me.


So, I'm all nutty and excited while our "handler" and Dodger PR liaison, Sammy is trying to get us all in formation for a very public introduction. And we're all "Guys! Oye! We're on the field! How accidentally cool is this?" and we're all taking selfies and being all distracted and being Cuban and waving at everyone. 

And poor Sammy was mildly frustrated with us in a "this is like herding cats" way. But, no. It was like very much "herding Cubans" which comes with its own set of frustrations, but that's not important right now, either.

We finally get introduced while standing on the field in complete awe of the moment. Here's the video to prove that it happened.

My kids took a photo of me on the Jumbotron. And I thought, "It just doesn't get any better than this!"


But it did!

The game itself was a little slow in the beginning, but trust me, it sooo got better.

By the 7th inning stretch the Dodgers were losing, but of course we were in full This-is-just-a-big-Cuban-party mode. Our friends at Cuban Heritage Day at Dodger Stadium captured all the awesome Cubanity as we stretched and sang along with Roly and Lucy Vega from Habana Brand Clothing

And then it was time for the Dance Cam Salsa. Of course we all got up and danced. Hello! Cubans!
Suddenly Lucy and Marc and Jon were up there dancing on the Jumbotron. 
Happiest. Night. Ever.
I know this has been all about us, but what about the Dodgers? Well, in the bottom of the 9th, Dodger Scott Van Slyke hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Los Angeles Dodgers a 5-3 victory over the Miami Marlins. 
Pandemonium ensued. 
Crazy-happy-super-noisy-Cuban-WE-WON-in-the-last-play-of-the-game pandemonium. On Cuba Night. 
Oh, the Cubanity! 
Our next event will be Cuban Heritage Day at Dodger Stadium on Sunday, July 12th, 2015. Please follow Cuban Heritage Day on Facebook for news and updates.
It's not too soon to order your beautiful Dodger Blue Cuban shirts. from Habana Brand Clothing. Tickets will go one sale soon, so watch for those. Go Blue!
Cuban heritage day tshirts

The Versailles Restaurant Cookbook - A Giveaway

I can't, in good conscience, end Hispanic Heritage Month without talking about my love of Cuban food and sharing a wonderful new Cuban cookbook. 

Obviously I'm a lover of all-things-Cuban. Particularly the food that so defines our culture. Platanos, black beans, tostones, lechón asado, picadillo, and of course, pastelitos de guayaba. Food just doesn't get any better than this.


I'm happy to report that the wait is over for this wonderful cookbook. My friend and Real Housewife of Miami Alum, Ana Quincoces has partnered with the Versailles family, specifically Nicole Valls to bring you a collection of all of your favorite Cuban recipes from the iconic Versailles Restaurant in Miami, with the forward by ...wait for it...(drum roll, please)... Andy Garcia. (Pinch me!)

Part history and lore of the Versailles Restaurant, part detailed cookbook, with a good dose of Cuban idioms makes the Versailles Restaurant Cookbook a must-have in the kitchen of any self-respecting Cuban cook.

Ana had originally contacted me a few years ago, asking for a quote about Versailles to include in the book, which I gave her. Read that story here: Happy 40th Birthday, Versailles! My quote didn't make the book (sigh), but it's still a beautiful Cuban cookbook, with every single recipe you want in there. Ham croquetas, anyone?

Ana has generously given me an autographed copy of the Versailles Restaurant Cookbook to give away today. 


To enter this comment drawing, answer one or both of the following questions:

  • When you celebrate a special occasion, what's on the menu?
  • What's your favorite thing to order when you go to Versailles in Miami?

Remember that if you want to enter the drawing for the cookbook, you must leave a comment on this post and I'll choose a winner on Friday, October 17th at 8 pm PST.

Gracias and Buen Provecho!

Cubamerican the Movie on DVD - Giveaway

I so love celebrating Cuban (!) Hispanic Heritage Month with you guys because...

  • Our stories need to be told.
  • Cubans are amazing people.

Speaking of great "Cuando sali de Cuba" stories, I know many of you have already seen the documentary, Cubamerican. If you haven't yet, you will be amazed at how beautifully and poignantly it depicts the struggles and triumphs of Cubans who were exiled here and eventually made America their home. Get a copy! STAT!

Here's a list of the highly accomplished Cubans who were interviewed for the film. 

  • Carlos Eire
  • Lorena Feijóo
  • Pedro José Greer, Jr.
  • Mirta Ojito
  • Andy Garcia (be still my foolish heart)
  • Gonzalo Rubalcaba
  • Pedro A. Sanchez
  • Achy Obejas
  • Orlando Diaz-Azcuy
  • Felix S. Sabates, Jr.
  • Alvaro de Molina
  • Tony Pérez
  • Gustavo Pérez-Firmat (friend and lover of the MBFCF cookbook)
  • José Orlando Padron
  • Steven Bauer
  • Raoul G. Cantero III
  • Roberto González Echevarría
  • Eduardo J. Padrón
  • Jorge Pardo
  • Lorna Feijóo
  • Francisco "Pipin" Ferreras

The fabulous news is that this gorgeous film is now available on DVD.

The 2nd piece of fabulous news is that I have a couple of copies to give away today, plus a promotion you will totally be excited about. 

The 3rd piece of fabulous news is that I received the very first copy of the DVD as a gift from Director, Jose Enrique Pardo and Producer, Daniel Bellas. Okay, that's not truly fabulous news, it just makes me feel sooo accidentally cool. (But that's not important right now.)


First of all, I'm giving away, not one, but two (2) copies of the Cubamerican DVD. 

To enter this drawing for a chance to win a DVD of the documentary, Cubamerican, please leave a comment on this post and tell me:

  • When did you arrive here in the U.S. 
  • Where was your first stop?

My answer: February 14, 1961. Miami, Florida.

Please leave your comment on this post and I'll choose TWO winners on Monday, September 22nd, 2014 at 11 am PST. 

The 2nd piece of fabulous news is for those of you who just don't want to wait (I know how you guys get), the generous folks at Cubamerican have a BOGO* offer for the first ten buyers. (*Buy One. Get One.)

The first 10 people to buy a Cubamerican DVD and put MBFCF after their name, will win an additional DVD. Here's the link: Cubamerican DVD.

Also, I think every Cuban should own and share this film. It tells our stories so beautifully. A very important reminder: Don't forget the tissues!

The Best of MBFCF in 2013

I'm looking at my calendar and it's already the 8th day of 2014. I was planning on taking a few days off at the beginning of the year and wow, did they go by quickly!

Come to think of it, 2013 feels like it went by pretty quickly also. Is it just me, or is this one of those things people tend to repeat a lot as they get old? Shut up. Don't even say it!

This past year has been quite eventful in lots of ways, which makes me happy that I blog (and scrapbook) because I would otherwise forget the thoughts and events and conversations I've had this past year. I know. There's that getting old thing again. Stop it.

Here are the top posts for each month of 2013. (Time is seriously flying, isn't it?)

Drum roll, please.

1.The Things I Didn't Blog About in 2012 - Luza - in which I confess my growing discomfort with my mom aging and how our roles are shifting.

Lucy and luza

2. #LookAtMyFood in which I continue to overshare what exactly I had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner via Instagram. (Also, if you don't already, you should follow me. I'm Smrtqbn.) I'm really very good about sharing my food.

Cuban food

3. Cuban Word of the Day - in which I share my delight at being honored by the wonderful artists from Wassup En LA? in their Cuban Word of the Day segment. (Technically it was 3 words - Pastelitos de Guayaba - but that's not important right now.)

Martas pastelitos

4. 99 Red Balloons in which I share how we celebrated my mom, Luza's 99th birthday. Cute video attached to that post, too.


5. Ahora Sí! in which I tell about the night I finally got to meet Andy Garcia. (I know. I still can't believe it. Pinch me!)

Andy garcia

6. Hello, Outdoor Movie Nights - in which I list all the great movies we have to choose from for our Summer Backyard Movie Theater. Also, it always marks the official beginning to our summer. And this pleases me greatly.

Movie list

7. "If you build it..." - in which I celebrate the wonderful farmhouse table that my kids built for me.

Lucy on table

8. Hurry up...and wait - in which I tell the story of Jonathan's first acting job in a feature film. (Now that I told you, I'll probably have to kill you.)

Jon on the set

9. We Visited Coffee Heaven and Lived to Tell the Tale - in which I describe (in great over-sharingly detailed detail) our wonderful visit to the Gaviña Coffee plant.

Eric and marta coffee tour

10. My Big, Fat, FROZEN, Cuban family - in which I gush (yes, there's gushing) about my day at the Walt Disney Animation Studios and the making of the animated feature, FROZEN. Also, the Disney Animators made me a personal video which totally put me over the edge.

Marta Frozen

11. ALL the Picadillo at the Blurb Books Food Fair in which I share about my visit to San Francisco and how I got to cook for lots of hungry book buyers. Also, there's a very cool video they did about me and my picadillo.

Marta cooking picadillo

12. Cuban Picadillo Pies® - in which I developed a new and fun way to eat and share picadillo. (<--also, what a weird descriptive sentence that was!)

Picadillo pies

Thanks to all of you who have been faithfully following MBFCF for all these years or who have just found me in the last year. I write this blog mostly for myself, so it genuinely pleases me when you respond so generously to my over-sharing.

Also, did the year just fly by for you, too? (I know. Old. Shut up.)

Happy New Year, my friends!

Ahora Si!

*The title of this post, "Ahora si." translates literally to "Now yes!" It's an idiom we Cubans like to use when something is REALLY happening. As in "this is really going down right now." It's also the title of a song sung by Andy Garcia and the Cineson All Stars, but that's not important right now.....or maybe it is?

At the beginning of this year, I declared that my goal for 2013 was to finally meet Andy Garcia. It's been a fantasy of mine to meet him and of course, impress him with my wit and versatility. I have a friend that says you just have to make declarations like that and "put it out there for the Universe." And so, I did. Here's what happened next...

May is my Birthday Month. That is, my birthday lands somewhere around the 3rd week of May, but I try to milk the celebration for as long as I can. And that's usually the entire month. (Don't judge me.)

My family is used to this and so when May rolls around they start thinking in terms of what-to-do-for-mom-for-her-birthday. Which is how I found myself dressed up with high heels and makeup at the Catalina Jazz Club in L.A. on Saturday, May 4th at a concert by Andy Garcia and the Cineson All Stars. This was my birthday gift from my daughter, Amy Kikita.

Amy marta

We had seen Andy before and loved his show so I knew what to expect and was looking forward to the evening. Talk about a versatile artist! See this post.

The Cineson All Stars are a collection of some of the finest Cuban musical artists ever assembled. Andy is the   quintessential Cuban music historian and between songs told of the origin of each of the compositions, including how that style of music came to be played in our native Cuba. It was educational and edifying and made the music just that much more vibrant.

Andy garcia and the cineson allstars

"Ahora si!" is also the title of a song composed by the legendary Cachao and dedicated to Andy Garcia in celebration of his youngest child, a son, Andres, after he already had 3 daughters. The lyric goes:

"Si! Si! Si! Ahora, si! Barón!" (Get it? The "Barón," or boy, after the first 3? It's kind of genius, really.) Please click on this link and listen to track #7 so you get a feel for the awesome Afro-Cuban-mamboness of it all. Better yet, go download the song and add it to your iTunes playlist. You're welcome.

Much to our everlasting delight, Andy Garcia and the Cineson All Stars played for over 3 hours that night without a break. Which meant that we were wiggling and dancing in our seats for some of the time, but finally we could not contain ourselves any longer and it was the "Ahora Si!" song that brought down the house.

Andy garcia on congas

An aside: there was a familiar-looking,skinny blonde who got up to dance right next to our table and ended up bumping butts with Amy. It turned out to be the actress, Sharon Stone getting her Cuban on. Of course, Amy is a much, much better dancer. She can't help it. It's in her blood.

We were there with a handful of good friends who appreciate this type of music and we all sang along, and danced all night and took crappy pictures with our smart phones and generally had a fantastic time. And we hung in there way past midnight until the last note had been played.

"Let's go meet him. Tonight's the night." That was my daughter. If you've been following this blog for the past 6 1/2 years, you know that I have an entire Blog Category dedicated to Andy Garcia (find it over in the right nav) and am a serious fan.

Ok. I was ready. Well, sort of....

If I was fantasizing about the conditions under which I would finally get to meet Andy Garcia, my hair and makeup would be flawless and I would NOT be breathless and sweaty. But then, when you put these things out to the Universe, you really don't have much control over how they will go down, do you?

Andy garcia and marta darby 1

Also, wit and versatility? Gone. Completely blown out by sweat, exhaustion and holy-cow-I'm-finally-meeting-Andy-Garcia-and-my-hair-is-sticking-out-Medusa-style. But I did get to meet and greet.

And that was enough.

Andy garcia and marta darby 2

And he agreed to a photo op. A blurry, badly lit, over-exposed photo of me and Andy Garcia. Which I have already blown up and framed and hung above my desk and will treasure forever. (Happy Birthday Month to Me!)

Next time I put something out for the Universe, I'm going to insist on better mega-pixels.

Ahora si!

Happy 40th Birthday, Versailles! (An homage and a giveaway.)

“I need a blurb from you about Versailles.”

This request came from my friend (the amazing Cuban chef and cookbook author) Ana Quincoces. She was working on a TOP SECRET project and thought I might have something to say about my favorite Cuban restaurant in Miami.

Me: “Tell me what you're doing, so I can put it in context.”

That's when she began to reveal that she was working on a.....(wait for it....) Versailles Cookbook! *insert heavenly choir here*

Me: “Seriously? What a cool project. I suppose I could give you a blurb. But if we're talking Versailles on Calle Ocho, I could do an entire homage without breaking a sweat, but that's not important right now.”


Versailles. It's usually the first place we visit when we arrive in Miami (Hello, Cuban food!) and the last place, too. (Pan con Bistec for the plane ride home.)

Versailles. The first item on our long list of Miami Rules.

Versailles. Of the iconic etched mirrors and the perfect cortadito.


Versailles. Always packed at any time of the night or day. Filled with the sounds of my people. Their loud and inimitable voices raised in conversation, argument, and laughter.

Versailles. The geographical epicenter of our exile.

Me: “I wrote a post about why I couldn't live in Miami and my lack of self-control when it comes to Cuban food in general and Versailles in particular.”

Me, quoting myself: “It's like the Cuban Mecca and I am a faithful pilgrim.”

The next thing I know, I'm being quoted in the Miami Herald in an article titled Versailles: 40 years serving food with a side of politics. (I know. Shut. UP.)

From the article:

“When no one knew who he was, Julio Iglesias used to come and sit here and eat,” Valls Sr. remembers.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush is still a regular, and “although I’m a Republican,” Valls Sr. notes, President Clinton has been here three times. Famous chefs like the Food Network’s Bobby Flay make Versailles a mandatory pitstop on visits to Miami.

“It’s like the Cuban Mecca and I am a faithful pilgrim,” says Californian Marta Darby, who writes the blog “My Big, Fat, Cuban Family.”

(emphasis mine)

I'd like to just point out right now that they mention me in the same section as the other famous people who have eaten there, but that's not important right now. ;-)

Ana: “I think we got your blurb.”

Then she went on to tell me that she's still working on the Versailles book and that they're having a big party at the Calle Ocho restaurant this week to celebrate and that they're hoping that....(wait for it....) Andy Garcia will write the forward.

  • Thing 1) Out-of-my-skin excited to be included in this wonderful project.
  • Thing 2) Andy Garcia and I might be published in the same book. (One degree closer, people.)
  • Thing 3) Versailles is 40 years old.

I think we need to celebrate, don't you? I wish the Versailles book existed already and I had that to give away, but it has not been published yet, but I do have the next best thing:

An autographed copy of Ana's iconic Cuban Cookbook: Sabor! A Passion for Cuban Cuisine. (Thank, Ana!)


Sabor autograph

Of course, I'm especially proud of having My Big, Fat, Cuban Family Torrejas featured in this beautiful cookbook, but that's not important right now, either.


(Page 204 - 205, por si las moscas....)  =D

So, to enter this comment drawing, answer the following question:

  • When you celebrate a special occasion, what's on the menu?

Remember that if you want to enter the drawing for the cookbook, you must leave a comment on this post and I'll choose a winner on Sunday, July 17th, 2011 at 5 pm Pacific.

Happy Birthday, Versailles!

Con muchisimo cariño,


The Cocoon

Eric found the cocoon on May 27th.


We had never seen anything like it before. It looked to me like a jade earring with perfect gold flecks. It looked so, so surreal.

"What is that?" We quickly asked Señor Google better known around here as Cuco. =D

A Monarch. Shut. UP!

It took a few weeks for the thing to begin to turn transparent and show us what was inside.

Clear cocoon

The colors of the monarch butterfly became apparent to us then.

Every day we went out to catch another glimpse of the little miracle hanging from the arm of our patio chair.

On June 13th, the miracle finally happened and the beautiful butterfly slowly emerged.


Lucky for us, he spent hours struggling to get out and dry off and spread his wings. We were privileged to have front row seats (and digital film, of course) to this magical event.

Finally, he lifted off and headed for the flowers to sit and let the sun dry him so he could head off to the next adventure of his short life.


I decided to name him "Andy Garcia," because he was so beautiful. ;-)

Ready to Roll

My 96 year old mom, Luza, has been glued to her tv watching the coverage of all the Cubans marching in solidarity with the Damas de Blanco. (See Amy's post below.)

I have so many posts that begin, "my mom will be with us this weekend...."

Well, this is one of those weekends.

In preparation, I called her the other day and she told me she has been watching the coverage of the march in Miami, and wearing white to show solidarity with the brave Cuban women who are marching to demand Human Rights in Cuba.

Look at this sea of people. My people. Here ends the myth that the Cubans on the island and the Cubans in the U.S. are a divided people.


I explained to her that there would be a march like that in L.A. on Sunday and that we wanted to go. She's 96 and has trouble walking very far because she loses her balance, so I assumed she would not be interested in going. I figured I would just send Amy Kikita to represent.

Luza: "Can you get me a wheelchair?"

At 96, she continues to amaze me.


WHAT: Cubans Hunger for Change

WHEN: Sunday, March 28,2010

WHERE: Echo Park, 1632 Bellevue Avenue, Los Angeles, California, 90026

**Meet at Jose Marti statue in Echo Park. Please wear white & bring a flower.**

Here's Andy Garcia on tomorrow's march: