A Cuban Dinner at Mrs. Bonin’s House

In what has been an extremely busy year, we finally found a date to make this happen! Mrs. Bonin prepared her popular black beans and rice (of which pounds of it had been fed to boarders over the years), showing us the basic foundation of all Cuban cooking–sofrito–and then the various spices that she adds to her own black beans. Maduros–fried, ripe plantains–along with a salad of red onion, orange segments and avocado rounded out the meal.

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Nelson Choi
–It all started with the movie “Chef.” The moment when Hon Favreau sizzled some Cubanos, the movie had already absorbed me completely. While
still hungover from the great culinary movie, Ms. Bonin offered us an irresistible dinner: A Cuban dinner. Without further ado, I reserved my schedule for the day with the Cuban dinner as the Cuban dinner as my first priority. The promised day came, and I was in Ms. Bonin’s house with a full excitement and an empty stomach. Appetizers were tortilla chips with great home-made guacamole. Not really Cuban, but the guacamole was one of the finest i’ve ever had for sure. Then, the entree came in: Grilled Chicken with rice and beans. It sounds like simple, everyday dinner, but the quality was indeed supreme. The beans were cooked

to perfection with slight hints of oregano and cumin, the chicken so tender that I could have eaten five of them, and last but not least, the rice; Koreans (or all asians) tend to be very strict on the quality of rice, and the rice was extremely satisfactory that day. From chicken to rice, the most complex to the simplest food we were served that day, were
flawless. The empty stomach was filled with Cuban joy by the time I was done with the meal. After that day, Cuba made its name on my to-visit-someday list. Until that day, I will dream of having some more Cuban cuisines, especially the Cubanos which I only saw through the movie.


Grace Gibbons
–Mrs. Bonin invited the whole culinary arts club over to her house and prepared for us Cuban black beans and rice coupled with chicken. The white rice was topped

by the delicious black beans cooked for many hours with various spices such as oregano. The chicken tasted slightly sweet and tasted incredible coupled with the Cuban black beans and rice. I had never previously had this dish and it’s now one of my new favorites!

Lucy Ferry–An industrial pot of black beans, steaming white rice, dollops of guac, barbecued chicken, and tart plantains awaited my stomach after a long school day at the esteemed Bonin abode
. Snug in their quaint kitchen, I caught whiffs of this foreign Cuban cuisine, eagerly awaiting my filling. My flimsy paper plate sagged under the weight of the buffet mountain as I attempted to taste a of all the components. An exploding sweetness enveloped in my mouth, incorporating the subtle notes of black bean against the bodacious plantains. The chicken’s charred skin lowered the charged levels as I blissfully enjoyed an end to another Abbey day.

Sam Choi–This was the first time i have ever had Cuban food in my life. Mrs. Bonin cooked us black
beans and grilled chicken. The Cuban food make me rethink about slow cooking. The black beans were extremely soft and delicious; it made me think food reflects the amount of time and effort the chef has put into. I also enjoyed the grilled chicken. The skin was crisp and the meat was tender. I really hope we can continue this club next year.

Rosie Randolph–This past week the culinary club got to try some Cuban food at the Bonin house. I’ve never tried any Caribbean food before, and it was a delicious novelty that I’d love to have again. The black beans and rice dish was my favorite; it reminded me of the curry rice I’ve had in Japan and it was a fantastic combination. I hope that someday soon I can go to Cuba and discover even more about its culture and food!

 

Yanqi Zhiang–Spice it Up: Garlic, Cumin, Umami and More

First of all, I have to say Mrs. Bonin’s roasted chicken thigh is nothing like the jerk chicken you can get in the dining hall once in a while. Last Thursday I had my first Cuban dinner ever. What I expected was the cilantro-ish Mexican-ish tacos. And I was wrong. I was surprised to see the gigantic amount of spices in the pot. Do garlic and cumin go together? Yes I do it all the time when making Asian kebabs. But the combination of brown sugar with ham is unheard of! The raw but coyly flavor of brown sugar balances with the ham’s umami: the meaty savory taste. Sorry for you vegetarians out there, the ham tastes like paradise.

David Ingraham–Great people compliment great food better than anything else. Thankfully, such people did accompany me on my first journey into the Cuban cuisine. My friends and I could not stop talking about the delicious
meal we ate just outside our dorms. My first experience with plantains was one for the record books. I first bit into this micro-banana expecting the mushy distinct taste of a banan
a, but the sweet and almost caramel taste of the plantain enveloped my tongue with comfort and satisfaction. After more food than an average sixteen-year-old boy should consume, I consumed more shockingly delicious ice creams and sorbets.

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Kevin Jiang–Walking into Dr. and Mrs. Bonin’s house, the warmth inside the house dispelled my coldness while  the captivating smell of the spices and food aroused my hunger. Everything has its own place in the kitchen, staying in its precise spot without any, any dirt at all as if a model kitchen in a culinary show. The bowl of chips with homemade guacamole lies on a table with all kinds of fruit. Six different kinds of spices were divided into six small dishes and arranged into one straight line beside the pot with soup and chicken in it. Another huge pot was on the stove quietly preparing for its show time. The ordinary was extravagant in its own way.

Mrs. Bonin first showed us how to mix the spices together in order to create a traditional Cuban dish. Shamefully, I didn’t know any names of the spices and I still don’t. However, the lack of common knowledge did not obstruct my tasting experiences later. Each of us took a plate and piled it up with salad, rice, black beans, chicken and fried bananas. The combination of rice and black beans gave a steady salty taste while the spices on the chicken stimulated and inspired an intense flavor, giving the dish a clear focus. Meanwhile, the brown sauce with the black beans clashed and blended together with the wet surface of the chicken, creating extra saltiness and taste to the dish. As soon as I finished the main dish, I started my attack on the fried bananas. I had never had them before but I fell in love with it immediately due to my obsession with sweet food. The soft bananas burst out more and more sweetness throughout my chewing and revealed the conserved light sour taste just before I swallowed it. Appreciating great food at a great place with great people, what can be better?

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