I thought I knew Cuban cooking when I began working for The Miami Herald in 1978. After all, I'd spent several years in the Tampa Bay area.
Soon after settling in South Florida, we were invited to a potluck, and I brought a cazuela of black beans and rice. Imagine my bafflement when no one knew what it was.
My beans were prettily splashed over pimiento-studded yellow rice, topped with chopped raw onion and minced parsley and accompanied by cruets of Spanish sherry and vinegar to be sprinkled on top. This cultural mishmash -- Ybor City meets nouvelle cuisine -- amused my new friends no end.
So began my education in cooking Miami-style, a process that kicked into high gear a few years later when we launched Cook's Corner.
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As it happens, Calle Ocho Open House began the same year I came to Miami. It has grown into the largest Hispanic festival in the country, and is celebrating its 30th anniversary this weekend.
It seems fitting to join the party with a sampling of Latin dishes from the Cook's Corner archives. Back then, there were few published, English-language sources for Latin American recipes beyond Mexican, so I turned to readers and restaurants, relatives and friends for help. It's been a delicious journey.