Talking Cuban

Cubamania is one of the few places in Reno and Sparks that does fried plantain right—and serves up Iron Beer.

Photo By David Robert

Rating: Splendid

“What’s Cuban food like, anyway?”

“It’s not like Mexican food. More Latin American.”

“They have drums.”

“It’s not real busy.”

“Hmm, yuca rellenas, $1.50. Must be an appetizer. Snapper with mango sauce could be good. $6.95.”

“Excuse me, but what is this Iron Beer? It’s listed as a soda. … Oh, no alcohol. Yeah, I’d like to try it.”

“Do you have any Cuban soda that’s citrusy? … OK, good, I’ll try the Cawy, then.”

“Iron Beer. ‘Since 1917. On a summer’s afternoon, in 1917, a mule-drawn wooden wagon arrived at a popular cafeteria in Havana, Cuba. It delivered four cases of a new soft drink that would soon be called the national beverage.’ “

“I found it! I’ve been looking for this for years! I used to drink something just like this when I was a child growing up in England.”

“Is it like root beer?”

“No, you want some? It’s spicy, reminds me of something old, from my childhood. Something exotic.”

“Dave had an exotic childhood. This papaya nectar has an interesting taste. There’s a froth forming on top.”

“We should write this food review as a dialogue.”

“Then food can really be a character in the drama of our lives.”

“Does this come with dressing?”

“Oil and vinegar. I think it’s balsamic. I’m going to take a picture of the drums.”

“I could tell the story of my grandpa who was born in Cuba and left on a doorstep.”

“Carli, you’re Cuban?”

“My grandpa’s mom was a Cuban woman who had an affair with a lawyer who later became the ambassador to Nicaragua. These two weird ladies raised him. One married a Danish banker, and they moved to New York. I think.”

“Your grandpa was the original Alien Gonzalez. Did I say Alien? Elian.”

“Cubamania—where mojo is a marinade with hot olive oil, lemon or lime juice, sliced raw onions, garlic, cumin and water.”

“Did you say onions screwing peppers?”

“That’d be a good name for a rock band, Onions Screwing Peppers & The Oubliettes.”

“The fried sweet plantain is excellent!”

“So are the plantain patties. Here, you guys should try some.”

“I like the black beans and rice. It’s kind of a dirty rice thing.”

“How’s your chicken?”

“Cooked well, not overdone. The guava was draped over the top along with the spicy fruit sauce. How’s the fish, Carli?”

“The snapper’s a trifle—I’m trying to find a diplomatic way to say it—greasy. But tasty. Be careful of the bones.”

“Mine doesn’t have any bones. Oh. Spoke too soon. I like it, though, it’s kind of tangy and not fishy tasting at all. This yuca rellenas thing is good.”

“It doesn’t taste like Yucca Mountain. Not that I know what Yucca Mountain tastes like.”

“This sauce is very sweet.”

“Yeah, and I think I got a sugar rush from that Iron Beer.”

“We can write, ‘The Iron Beer was getting to Dave.’ “

“You sure get lotsa food here: plantain, rice, soup, salad, bread and the entrée. … Excuse me, what is this? … Mango sauce? What’s in it? … Really. Mango, jelly and onion.”

“I like the soup.”

“Yeah, I love black bean soup. Sometimes it’s served with a dollop of sour cream on it.”

“That’s gross.”

“Hey, sour cream is good. Is the waiter going to bring our check?”

“I think in Cuba you have to ask for the check.”

“Can we get the check, sir? Thanks. Yes, we enjoyed the meal very much."