Cuban Food Stories


Culinary Cinema | 2018 | 83 minutes

Stranger Says:

Food is inextricably linked to culture, to tradition, and to memory. Unfortunately for filmmaker and Cuba native Asori Soto, he was robbed of those memories as a child, when the economic crisis forced bereft cooks to scrimp on ingredients. In Cuban Food Stories, he returns to reclaim the flavors of his homeland—but don’t expect familiar meals like pork, rice, and beans. Instead, you’ll be introduced to dishes that live not in cookbooks or on menus, but through oral tradition, some of them in locations so isolated they can be reached only by horseback or raft. Like ceviche so fresh, it’s prepared still on the fishing boat, or coconut meat scraped out of the shell and drizzled with honey and rum at a remote countryside stand. Soto is a loving documentarian, and his dedication to Cuba is palpable in every frame.

SIFF Says:

“The food we cook not only makes us human, but is a primal element in understanding who we are as a culture.” So narrates director Asori Soto, whose family left Cuba for New York when he was only five yeas old. Now he returns to his homeland, hoping to connect to his roots and embarking on a quest “to discover what Cubans of all classes do to overcome hardship and keep their culinary heritage alive.” Not simply a culinary road trip, CUBAN FOOD STORIES captures the political upheaval of a complicated country and how revolution affects food, from fluctuating resources to industrial influence to the rise of international tourism. But oh, what a culinary road trip it is: a fisherman who “learned to swim before I could talk” speaks fondly of his daily routine of capturing swordfish and preparing ceviche for his crew; a middle-aged couple, deeply in love, will serve an incredible lunch to anybody who stops by their humble farm in the Escambray Mountains; a man famous for his smoked meats sells his wares at the Las Parrandas de Remedios, one of the island’s most popular festivals. As the Latino proverb goes, “Love enters through the kitchen,” and this film is Soto’s plea to preserve the flavors, literally and figuratively, that makes Cuba worth fighting for.

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Film Credits
Asori Soto
Asori Soto, Ernesto Pérez Medina, Migdalia Armas Rieche, Gilberto deArmas Rieche, Lázaro Yohan Machin
SIFF 2018