Let’s face it. You probably don’t go to Cuba for the food. At least not until now. But, a new generation of cuentapropistas are changing the food scene, opening up restaurants and paladares in Cuba. Stylish places like Havana’s El Cocinero, founded by entrepreneur and pioneer Sasha Ramos, Ken’s unabashedly proclaimed favorite cafe on the planet; El Café in Habana Vieja, and the Vedado vegan restaurant Camino Al Sol are leading the way.
Most importantly, if you’ve seen either of the first two episodes of the Startup Cuba docuseries then you know that these entrepreneurs are doing more than just opening up new restaurants in the island nation. They’re also taking the initiative to improve their lives and their country. And in this case, these cuentapropristas are also improving the breadth of food available to its citizens.
Cuba’s, of course, a long way away from having the ample food supply it needs. And, these restaurants and paladares are presently only financially accessible by tourists or those who can get their hands on CUC (one meal could easily be worth double a standard month’s salary). Yet, these first steps demonstrate that it is possible to cultivate and source the ingredients necessary to provide a larger variety of food than what’s been historically available.
It’s also teaching Cubans how they can eat healthier. Many of the small farmed crops are now, or have been organic simply because they’ve had no other choice. By farming this land, citizens can eat more vegetables and plant based food than they have. In a country where pork is the main source of protein, these new options, or at least the idea of these new options plants seeds (pun intended?) in people’s heads for what is possible.
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