Tastes like Cuba

Various writers employ various elements to construct a world that is closely related to that of their readers. Machado’s use of food in his work evokes a sense of belonging to the Cuban people. As he tries to accomplish his literal goals, he uses food to present thoughts, apply them to various times, and return to them. This is an examination of how Machado employs food in his work, as well as the significance of Cuban food memories.
The introduction to a story is regarded as one of the most critical aspects of a plot. A reader tends to judge whether to read or listen to a story based on the nature of its introduction. Machado ensures that his story begins with a convincing introduction to coerce the reader to read and understand his memoir. He opens his story with an anecdote that attracts the attention of the reader. “I woke up to the smell of boiling milk. Not 1% or 2% or soy milk or rice milk. The milk had never touched the cardboard box” (Machado and Domitrovich, 1). This statement is of paramount importance since besides describing the smell and the features of the freshly boiling milk, Machado introduces us to the surrounding environment. The fact that this milk had never touched a cardboard shows that the surrounding is a rural setting where milk is freshly drawn from its source. Furthermore, Machado reaffirms this argument by saying that he was in his grandmother’s small farm.

Every person has certain memories that remind them of their homes. Machado uses food to express a nostalgic feeling about his home. Cuba is ninety miles away from his location in Florida, but he desires to go back to him home to enjoy the wide range of meals. Since this is not possible, he uses his memories to fulfill this desire. He discovers that food is the only feature that reminds him of the real image. Machado argues that this image provides him with a clear understanding of his cultural background. The Cuban people have a reputation of valuing meals as their treasured tradition by having a wide range of recipes. Therefore, the author uses food in his memoir to describe the Cuban culture to his audience and at the same satisfy his desire to have these meals while in exile. Furthermore, he attempts to describe how different countries have different cultures just like a wide range of foods are considered as a wealth of the Cuban culture.

Machado’s desire for the Cuban food is a representation of how much these people value their culture despite them being away from their home. Recipes are used as evidence that foods are a highly valued tradition, in fact, Machado completes his writing with a recipe that he names as the Eduardo Arroz con Pollo, “I’m proud to say that even with all these influences, there is still one voice that comes through. This is my dish. My way. My Arroz con Pollo”, (Machado and Domitrovich, 354). He states these words after describing a recipe for his favorite meal.

Machado uses these meals to how he has developed a personal relationship with foods as his tradition for a long time. The love and passion of the tradition also originate from his childhood lifestyle which is associated with a wide range of meals. Most of these food memories have been gathered in all his life. Additionally, valuing this as a tradition has also seasons this culture with more flavors and hence creating a sense of cultural identity. It is evident that memories shape narratives in people’s lives and so does food memories shape the author’s narratives while in exile. Machado’s lifestyle is highly impacted by food-laced memories that describe his traits and more so associates him with his home country. Furthermore, this passion redefines his level patriotism. He has other food choices in Florida, but he chooses his traditional foods as his most memorable moments.

Machado also uses food as a link between memory and narratives. Research has shown that there is a close relationship between food memory and transmission of sensations. This is based on the fact that food memories are time-based. For instance, Machado argues that he had his passion for the Cuban food since his childhood. Secondly, this timeliness feature also shows that food memories link the past and the present. Furthermore, these features create chances for future recollection in that they can be used in future to recollect perceptions in the form of prospective memory.

Machado’s case study shows that food memories and personal narratives are inseparable. The nostalgic memory in this narrative is closely linked to Machado’s food memories. Therefore, it is important to understand how these memories are created and afford to challenge a nostalgia feeling. It is also important to know that the current types of foods that are consumed by people determine how our homes will be remembered in future. This implies that people should use their current moments to create a tradition that results in an important and widely accepted culture. Meals create food memories, unlike the nostalgic feelings that are more sensitive to flavors, taste, and texture of the meal. These three senses evoke different feelings that all together form diverse nostalgic feelings. Furthermore, these combinations are also necessary in converting food memories and their corresponding personal feelings and social memories.

Lastly, food memories are also used as a link between people with similar food preferences. Machado uses food to show his connection with different meals and self-invited life. Foods are also the bonding element between him and his grandfather since he developed his recipes as an attempt to understand his grandfather’s argument that Machado’s recipe will taste like Cuba. Tasting like Cuba meant that this recipe would be the best compared to all other meals prepared in Cuba. At first, Machado does not understand how this recipe will taste like Cuba. He struggles to understand the true meaning of his grandfather’s phrase. Symbolically, this phrase was intended to show how Machado is trying to come to terms with the contradiction and the confusion in exile. Moreover, he prepares a recipe at the end of the memoir that contains ingredients such as garlic chicken and sour oranges. This recipe is considered as a killer (Machado and Domitrovich, 354). This indication implies that food was not only used to remember the good experiences back in Cuba but also a solution for the troubles experienced in exile.


Machado, E., & Domitrovich, M. (2007). Tastes like Cuba: An Exile’s Hunger for Home. Penguin.

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