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in F r e i s t i l 12.04.2019 09:21
von tujue • 245 Beiträge

by Raimundo Urrechaga

HAVANA, July 22 (Xinhua) -- Rice, beans, pork and plantains are the basic foods in any Cuban kitchen. But this is rapidly changing as an ongoing culinary revolution is taking over the streets of Havana.

After many years of being confined to traditional dishes, largely as a result of food shortages and little variety at the shops, Cubans are getting their palates ready for an abundance of new eateries and themed restaurants deserving a return visit.

On one of Havana' s busiest streets, Rita Pereira, a 50-year-old Cuban, visits perhaps the capital' s only Iranian restaurant, Topoly, twice a week

"It' s a one-of-a-kind place that expands our cultural and culinary knowledge and lets us learn about another country through its food. It's something we didn't have in the past," Pereira told Xinhua.

The government licensed the operation of privately-run restaurants five years ago as part of economic reforms in the Caribbean island state. The move has greatly pleased locals and foreign residents eager to sample more international cuisine.

Topoly opened up in 2014, providing Cubans and visitors of other nationalities with a genuine insight into Iranian food and culture.

"The menu is very diverse, salads are my favorite here and food quality is very good," Pereira added.

Among the restaurant's mostly ordered dishes are falafel, a typical Iranian vegetable croquettes, and chelo kabab kubideh, a national dish cooked with lamb, white rice, Shirazi salad, grilled tomatoes and yogurt dip.

"In this restaurant, we offer a different option to Cubans and tourists and, after more than two years of hard work, we have a lot of clients that keep coming back," Farrokh Nourbakht, owner of Topoly, said.

Before economic reforms, few ordinary Cubans could afford to shop at government-run grocery stores and the majority relied on the ration book of coupons to get subsidized goods such as rice, beans, sugar and oil.

However, more private businesses, including restaurants, have emerged in the Cuban market over the past few years.

On top of economic reforms, thawing relations between Havana and Washington in recent years have brought more tourists to Cuba. Food options have become plentiful in the wake of growing tourism with new restaurants and new flavors springing up.

In Havana's famous tourist attraction Malecon, with a breathtaking view of the city and its lighthouse, lies Cuba's only Soviet-themed restaurant, Nazdarovie.

As the Soviet Union has been Cuba's closest ally for over 30 years, thousands of locals have learned to appreciate its cuisine. In response to his friends' nostalgia for traditional Soviet dishes, Ukrainian Gregory Biniowsky started Nazdarovie.

"Traditional Soviet dishes were common to them when they were students, so I decided to open up an authentic Soviet restaurant in 21st century Cuba," said Biniowsky, who has been living in Cuba for 23 years.

He was happy that Cuba's economic reforms have worked to diversify food offerings in Havana.

"We've taken the opportunity to participate in this new age of economic changes in Cuba. I think it's great the culinary culture is being promoted in Havana to enrich the city."

Dishes from a starter of meat-filled Pielmeni raviolis to creamy Stroganoff beef with fresh mushrooms and a strong shot of vodka with caviar to complement the meals have created loyalty among Nazdarovie's clients.

Decorated with Russian matryoshka dolls, Soviet memorabilia and pictures recording the old friendship between the two countries, the restaurant is an open invitation to the past.

More restaurants plan to open in the Cuban capital to welcome the increasing number of tourists, expected to reach four million this year. With Cuba further opening up, an array of international restaurants is one way the country is prepared to greet the world.

China has extradited its first criminal suspect from Latin America following eight years of negotiations Nike Air Force 1 Utility Pas Cher , repatriating an alleged crude soybean oil smuggler from Peru who has been on the run for 18 years, the country's customs bureau said on Sunday.

The General Administration of Customs said on its website that Huang Haiyong Nike Air Force 1 Utility Or , evaded over 700 million yuan ($104.69 million) in taxes between 1996 to 1998 through selling 107,000 tonnes of smuggled crude soybean oil.

Huang and his two associates fled to the United Sates in 1998 and Interpol issued a global arrest warrant for Huang in 2001 at the request of Chinese authorities Nike Air Force 1 Utility Blanche , the customs bureau said.

Huang Haiyong extradited from Peru Huang Haiyong extradited from Peru

He was caught by Interpol in Peru in 2008 and the two countries began negotiating his repatriation.

Photos published on the custom bureau website and state media show Huang being escorted by anti-smuggling police and being read his litigation rights.

"This case again reflects the customs bureau's attitude to fugitives Nike Air Force 1 Utility Noir , to 'chase them until the end', to crackdown on any determination to smuggle. No matter where suspects flee to Nike Air Force 1 Utility Rouge , they will be severely punished by law," it said.

China has brought home more than 600 officials in a campaign dubbed "Operation Fox Hunt" Nike Air Force 1 07 lv8 Utility , pursuing them abroad as part of a wider crackdown on deep-rooted graft.

It has been pushing for extradition treaties with various countries but western countries have been reluctant to help, not wanting to send people to a country where rights groups say mistreatment of suspects is a concern.

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