Saint Valentine in Nuevo Vedado / Rebeca Monzo

As much work we go through, this is how much they want us to rip out by the roots all dates, customs and traditions, we Cubans manage not to get carried away by so many obstacles and against all odds and we celebrate, in a country where there are good few things that deserve it.

But the fact remains that the to be alive, and even more to be in love, gives us enough energy to overcome so many difficulties, and each of us celebrates in our own way this and other dates.

The new businesses, especially restaurants, have breathed renewing air into the neighborhood, already a little saddened by the absence of the youth who have emigrated. The gleaming owners seem to have shaken off the old socialist vices, that so permeated and did much to undermine the State locales where to be served food: sending two to fill the empty seats at a table for four, sending one to complete a table, etc. etc. These depressing phrases can never be repeated, because the private restaurants have brought back the intimacy, quality and good taste that once took precedence in this business.

Today I passed by La Casa restaurant to investigate and I was delighted to see the special offers for Valentine’s Day: the tab of 25.00 CUC per person, includes welcome cocktail, appetizer of home-based salmon rolls stuffed with fruit and cream sour, croquettes, ceviche, fried taro, squid and shrimp with garlic and onions. The main course to choose from: turkey with apples and plums, thin fillets a la fine herbs, fish fillets with seafood sauce. All dishes come with white rice, black beans and salad, a glass of wine, a special dessert for lovers (those who aren’t shouldn’t eat it, just in case) and coffee. All this plus entertainment with live music.

It is true that these prices are only within reach of a few, but I’m sure there will be other offers for less healthy pockets. The point of all this is that there is a possibility, and especially the right to choose. Those who can not access these nice places, may choose to what the State has on offer, much improved, due to the challenge posed by the private sector. Also a special dinner at home would not be bad. Nothing extraordinary, with what we have at hand, the important thing is to set a nice table with flowers and candles and to share it with your loved one. Gentlemen, practice the use of customs and rights that were almost forgotten!

Make a celebration where it suits you, but above all be assures those who don’t want to won’t be forced to, just to fill an empty space. Most important, no doubt, is that you and your partner spend an afternoon or a night to remember and salute the representation of Saint Valentine of this wonderful feeling we all call love.

Why the propaganda for La Casa restaurant? Because they are my lifelong friends, because they are great impresarios, hardworking, sacrificing the privacy of their home, have eighteen years as business owners, and when most people were afraid, they threw themselves into the ring with a tremendous love and undertook the project.

Happy Saint Valentine’s Day!

February 12 2012