I've always considered the CBS Early Show the epitome of lightweight, brainless news. They make my case today.
"In life, we always want what we can't have. These days, Cuba is the forbidden fruit, which of course makes it taste all that much better. If you can't go to Cuba, why not bring Cuba to you?"
Colin Cowie, Early Show resident event planner says let's have a party. That's right a Cuba theme party - a taste of the forbidden fruit.
Cowie shows how even a two-hour cocktail gathering will be more pulled together by recreating a fun and lively atmosphere with a Cuba Libre party.
Let's move through the article to see how to set up our party, and to illustrate how this will so accurately portray the forbidden fruit of Cuba, let's include a few photos thanks to The Real Cuba.
First - Ambiance
Yes, the article says that ambiance is very important. You must be sure beforehand to tell your guests that it's a heavy hors d'oeuvres supper, not a formal sit-down meal. Why you won't need dinner after a cocktail party like this!
The set-up includes a long wood table with a market umbrella with a mosquito net behind it, making it more whimsical and dreamy. Cowie suggests hanging lamps inside the umbrella to create a little more of an intimate feel. Instead of using fresh-cut flowers, try baskets from Mexico lined with tropical leaves. On the table, set the drinks on one side with a tropical fruit centerpiece in the middle.
Use red to add a splash of color on the table. Cowie suggests red glasses and votives mixed with tropical prints. He likes to use extra-large tropical leaves, like monsterra leaves, banana leaves, and hanging haliconias that come from Hawaii.
Yes, Hawaii - and Mexican baskets. That's real Cuban.
Instead of a tablecloth, use potato sacking or jute. On the table, put glass cylinders filled with water, floating candles and banana leaves. Set up three round tables with wooden folding chairs so it's like a Cuban party. Colin says it gives it that extra "cha-cha-cha."
A Cuban party just like the family with the real Cuban kitchen to the right has.
Oh, and don't forget, have your guests don "colorful guayabera shirts," just like the real Cubans wear.
And don't forget the festive music you'll need at your party. A good selection of sons, guajiras, maybe a few mambos, rumbas, and, of course that cha-cha-cha? At least a little Gloria Estefan, right? Of course not. The article links to a page with selections such as "Relax -2, Sublime Music For Reading", "Samsara" for yoga and meditation, and some Deepak Chopra hits.
Next - Food and Drinks
Your party will need authentic food and drink.
Obviously, Cuba Libre is a drink (although it means "Free Cuba"), so set up a rum bar with five or six different kinds of rum. Cowie suggests showcasing your rum in a different way. Instead of having the bottles out, he says, pour the rum into snifters. To give this party real Cuban flavor, use little glass Coke bottles with wedges of lime. Cowie's Cuban party has a little '50s flair (thus the old-fashioned Coke bottles).
And you should continue with such authentic Cuban food as picadillo in a cup and fried tortilla strips. And don't forget that the mojito is a fashionable drink right now.
The article then gives a recipe for the very, very authentic Fried Bananas with Carmel Sauce, a dish I'm sure the average Cuban family enjoys at least weekly (if they can get electricity). I'm surprised the article doesn't go on to tell you how to get some of the real forbidden fruit, authentic jineteras, to come to your party.
Yes, have yourself an authentic Cuba Libre party the CBS Early Show way - all Libre for you and none for the Cubans.
Update - Fausta has her way with Mr. Cowie. Val exposes Mr. Cowie's mentirita.