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Marta M. Darby
Mission Viejo, CA
I'm Marta. Blogger. Mother. Documentor of Life. Cooker of Cuban Food. Wearer of Red Lipstick.
Interests: Writing, making art, gardening, homeschooling, cooking, scrapbooking, graphic design, photography and all things Cuban.
Recent Activity
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Okay, people. Can I just tell you that I love when you talk about Cuban food? My take-away when I read all your comments was, "Wow. We Cubans are passionate in our love for our food." That's really true, isn't it? Personally, there's something about the sublime blend of flavors in the almighty sofrito. The texture of a beautiful plantain. The variety of soups. The endless list of desserts. So much goodness to choose from. The food of our memories, our imaginations, and our abuelas' kitchen. And the memories of wonderful meals and events at Versailles? So many great stories about Cuban comfort food and celebrations. Thank you all for sharing. Sadly, I only have one autographed Versailles Restaurant Cookbook to give away. But, congratulations to the lucky winner! Irma, please send me an email with HEY, MARTA! I WON STUFF ON YOUR BLOG! in the subject line. Include your... Continue reading
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I can't, in good conscience, end Hispanic Heritage Month without talking about my love of Cuban food and sharing a wonderful new Cuban cookbook. Obviously I'm a lover of all-things-Cuban. Particularly the food that so defines our culture. Platanos, black beans, tostones, lechón asado, picadillo, and of course, pastelitos de guayaba. Food just doesn't get any better than this. I'm happy to report that the wait is over for this wonderful cookbook. My friend and Real Housewife of Miami Alum, Ana Quincoces has partnered with the Versailles family, specifically Nicole Valls to bring you a collection of all of your favorite Cuban recipes from the iconic Versailles Restaurant in Miami, with the forward by ...wait for it...(drum roll, please)... Andy Garcia. (Pinch me!) Part history and lore of the Versailles Restaurant, part detailed cookbook, with a good dose of Cuban idioms makes the Versailles Restaurant Cookbook a must-have in the... Continue reading
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I have a confession to make, I was not prepared to like this movie. But let me tell you why... If you read my post from yesterday, you know that Jonathan worked as a featured background guy on the new Disney movie, Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. And if you did read all about it, you know that I'm going to be completely insufferable, but that's not important right now. Movies are not made in a perfectly sequential order. You probably knew that, and I think I did, too, but I wasn't quite prepared with how jumpy and seemingly untethered the story appears as they are working on random scenes. Plus, they shoot scenes over and over and over which is how the director decides which "take" tells the story best. It makes very little sense to those of us in the peanut gallery. And, of... Continue reading
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Sit back. Get some popcorn. I have a wonderful "full circle" type story for you today. Jonathan worked on the film, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day last summer as a featued background actor. It started almost exactly a year ago when Jonathan decided he might like to give acting a shot. He signed up with a casting agency that specializes in background actors. Specifically kids. Because we homeschool and his high school classes were all online, there were no scheduling difficulties. He started working almost immediately as he was 17 and a few productions needed teenage background actors. I recall we were on vacation when I received the email asking if he was available to work for a few days in September on an upcoming Disney movie. Wait. WHAT? Disney had a film in production and they needed a few kids to work "featured" background."... Continue reading
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I had the absolute pleasure to attend the press junket last week for the newest Disney release, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. A day at the beautiful Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills? Yes, please. I had already seen (and immensely enjoyed) the film, so I was really looking forward to hearing what the actors had to say. There were 2 panels. The first being made up of the director, Miguel Arteta, the producers: Lisa Henson and Dan Levine, and the screenwriter, Rob Lieber. To my everlasting delight, director Miguel Arteta invoked the mighty name of John Hughes (let's observe a moment of silence, please) as his inspiration for the way the film unfolded. "Yes!" I thought, "That's exactly how I would've done it." (Of course, that's the way I would have done it in the alternate universe I inhabit where I am in charge... Continue reading
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I went through and read each and every one of your posts and I can't even tell you how happy you made me. So many of you I've had the pleasure to meet in person and I recall those times from reading your sweet comments. Thank you so much for your loyalty and love. I chose 3 winners for the poster giveaway. In case you don't know how I decide who wins, I go over to Random.org and plug in the number of entries into their True Random Number Generator. It's much quicker than putting all the names into a hat, but the end result is the same. These are today's winners, but stay tuned - I have another cool giveaway happening this coming weekend. (I'm a giver like that.) Also, if you want your own poster, ordering information is included below. Congratulations to the 3 winners: Please send me... Continue reading
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I sat down at my computer 8 years ago today and started crafting my very first blog post. I wasn't quite sure exactly who I was writing for, but I tentatively introduced myself and my family to cyber-space. I crossed my fingers and hoped that maybe somehow, some way, someone out there would read the stories about my extraordinarily ordinary life and maybe enjoy what I had to say. I was homeschooling both Lucy and Jonathan at the time and started over sharing about what our days were like. I reminisced about my childhood in Cuba. I posted photos. I told my tales of growing up Cuban and wondered if they were just going out into the ether. I decided early on to write to please myself. Not trying to sound self-serving here, but writing about my life and the things I care about is a very personal and vulnerable... Continue reading
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I know that all of us Cubans who left our homeland because of the communist revolution have a story. Many of the stories sound pretty much the same, but of course, the details are slightly different and oh-so-very personal. As I read over your comments on the last post, I could almost tangibly feel the pain and loss of each individual. It doesn't escape my notice that every single one of you remembers the exact date of your departure from Cuba. Some wounds never quite completely heal. Here are the stories I've collected so far: Cuando Sali de Cuba - stories of courage and hope. However, the gift of the film Cubamerican is that the stories that are told are of both loss and triumph. Having arrived here not knowing the customs or the language, we Cubans managed not just to survive, but to thrive. All the stories are fascinating... Continue reading
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I so love celebrating Cuban (!) Hispanic Heritage Month with you guys because... Our stories need to be told. Cubans are amazing people. Speaking of great "Cuando sali de Cuba" stories, I know many of you have already seen the documentary, Cubamerican. If you haven't yet, you will be amazed at how beautifully and poignantly it depicts the struggles and triumphs of Cubans who were exiled here and eventually made America their home. Get a copy! STAT! Here's a list of the highly accomplished Cubans who were interviewed for the film. Carlos Eire Lorena Feijóo Pedro José Greer, Jr. Mirta Ojito Andy Garcia (be still my foolish heart) Gonzalo Rubalcaba Pedro A. Sanchez Achy Obejas Orlando Diaz-Azcuy Felix S. Sabates, Jr. Alvaro de Molina Tony Pérez Gustavo Pérez-Firmat (friend and lover of the MBFCF cookbook) José Orlando Padron Steven Bauer Raoul G. Cantero III Roberto González Echevarría Eduardo J. Padrón... Continue reading
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My family moved to the U.S. reluctantly. When we left Cuba, we didn't know we were coming here for good. I think that's a part of our story as Cuban refugees that doesn't get much play. When we left our beloved homeland, we (when I say "we," I mean, my parents) thought it was only a temporary stay until that whole pesky revolution thing blew over. Obviously, it has not. The Verdés Sisters, circa 1961. Our 1st photo here in the U.S. We began our life here in the U.S. based on the premise that it was going to be sort of a long vacation. Then we began calling it exile. Then there came a point when we knew for certain that there was no going back. It's Hispanic Heritage Month. From the 15th of September to the 15th of October, we, here in the U.S. celebrate the contributions of... Continue reading
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I'm so happy to announce that Cubamerican the Movie, that has been a huge hit with Cuban audiences all over the country is now coming to Miami TV. I'm proud and very excited to share the details with you. I've been gushing about this film since the first time I saw it, but that's not important right now. To all my Miami friends, you won't want to miss this! The Miami TV premier for the Cubamerican movie is tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 4th, 2014 at 8pm on WPBT2. Here is the link to director Jose Enrique Pardo's interview on the Maria Elvira Salazar show on Mira TV. He comes on at the 39:56 mark. Note the time and station and set your DVR's. It's time to make history, people! (Get tissues.) Also, you're welcome. Continue reading
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My four kids have always been in super different places in life, which has always kept our lives interesting. I remember when Amy Kikita started college. It was the same year Jonathan started Kindergarten. Yeah. Kindergarten and college. With Lucy in grammar school and Adam in high school there was never a dull moment around here. Change is inevitable. Kids grow. They go out into the world to find their fortunes. They meet other people. They make new friends. They have adventures. They find their way in the world and add different kinds of cares (good and bad) into our lives as parents. So I mark the passage of time as I always have, by the ages and activities of my children. Eric and I find ourselves navigating some challenges that we hadn't experienced before. But that's what keeps life exciting, right? And, yes, our kids have always been in... Continue reading
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The 2nd Annual Cuban Heritage Day at Dodger Stadium has come and gone and it was, by all accounts, a huge success. I'm still a little overwhelmed by all the fabulousness and fun of celebrating baseball and Cubanity(<--it's a word, right?) with my people. And it was the hottest stinking day of the summer in LA, so, if this is a little incoherent, please forgive me ahead of time. Still recovering from the heat. Picture this: Cuban music playing (loudly) from the stage. Once a song starts, the smile of recognition quickly spreads across the faces. When the music plays, we must dance. It's in our Cuban DNA. We seriously can't help it. We spontaneously begin dancing with, and next to, and behind, and in front of whoever happens to be there. I so loved that. Although many wore their tried and true Dodger Blue, many of us showed off... Continue reading
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As I'm writing this, I have "Take me out to the ballgame" playing in a loop in my head. I am anticipating the excitement of arriving at Chavez Ravine for the big day on Sunday. From last year, I remember the awesome pre-game Viva Los Doyers party with the Charanga Cubana playing classic Cuban music. I loved being surrounded by all my Cuban people as they came to enjoy the music, the game, and especially the "Cubania." I can't wait to find our seats inside Dodger Stadium. I love looking around and seeing a sea of Dodger blue shirts. I'm so excited that one lucky MBFCF reader will join me and my family and all the rest of the Cubanity on Sunday, August 17th to cheer on our boys in blue (and expecially our home boy, Yasiel Puig.) Congratulations to Daniel Swaby! He won this fantastic Dodger Gift Pack and... Continue reading
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We're super excited to be a part of Cuban Heritage Day at Dodger Stadium again this year. And the Dodgers are super excited to host all of us loud, fanatical Cuban baseball fans. From the Dodgers site: Our Cuban-themed Viva Los Dodgers festival will begin 2 hours prior to first pitch, and fans can enjoy festive live music including performances by Alfredo Rodriguez and Charanga Cubana, player autographs and various activities. Admission to Viva Los Dodgers is free with a paid ticket to the game. First, the details: The game is against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, August 17th, at 1:00 o'clock PM. If you haven't already, you can still get tickets at the Los Angeles Dodgers Site. Then, you need to get your t-shirts, of course from Habana Brand Clothing so that you can appropriately represent. But the best part is today's giveaway... Sponsored by the Los Angeles Dodgers... Continue reading
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"You have to see this movie." I love conversations that begin this way. With a command. That means my friend, who knows me intimately, has something to share that I would love. And, in this case, MUST SEE. Further explanation comes: "It's got salsa music and Cuban food. You have to see this movie." There's an urgent tone in her voice. The movie in question is called "Chef" and is the brainchild of accomplished director and actor, Jon Favreau. My salsa-dancing-Cuban-food-loving friend, Rosabelle dragged me to see it. I was not disappointed. In fact, I caught her urgent tone. Why hadn't I heard of this film? It's got a great plot, hilarious moments, clever storyline, wonderful acting. And Cubanos. This synopsis from IMDB: A chef who loses his restaurant job starts up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family.... Continue reading
Hi Armando! Next time you MUST find me and say hello! Thank you for your kind words. I'm glad I can bring a little bit of Cubania into your Central Cal life. xo, Marta
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Lily, I posted the names of the winner on the day I did the drawing. http://www.mybigfatcubanfamily.com/my_big_fat_cuban_family/2014/07/comida-cubana-subway-art-the-winners.html xo, Marta
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Eric and I went to see Gloria Estefan perform at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday night. Let me just tell you how beautifully our Southern California weather performed as well. It was that magical kind of summer night - Not too hot. Not too cold. A slight Summer breeze. Seriously, So Cal. You sooo won. Of course, you know how much I love the Hollywood Bowl. In case you don't, read this. And especially this. The Parking Thing We live in South Orange County, which, when measured by So Cal distances, means at least an hour drive to get to Hollywood on a perfect day. The concert started at 8:00 pm, which meant we left our house at 5:00 pm. (I know the math doesn't add up, but then, neither does measuring distances by time.) The most stressful part of the evening for us is the drive - the 1... Continue reading
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Reading through all of your responses to my last post and Cuban poster giveaway, I was blown away by your tender and loving descriptions of the Cuban food we've all been raised on. Remember that time I made a giant vat of picadillo? This is the language that we speak, isn't it? The language of sofrito and abuelas and cumin and salsa. That was my inspiration when I created my very own Cuban poster - the Comida Cubana Subway Art Poster. I'm so delighted by your overwhelming response to this project. You are all such an inspiration to me. Also, as we say in "good Cuban," "Me dejaron con la boca cuadrada." (Loosely translated,"You made me so hungry!") Thank you all for entering my giveaway and congratulations to the 3 winners of the 16" x 20" posters. *********************************************************** *********************************************************** *********************************************************** Please send me an email with the subject line: HEY,... Continue reading
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My kitchen is, along with the rest of my house, freakishly small cozy and cottage-like. There's barely enough room for one person to turn around in. Having two people in there trying to get a hot meal on the table necessitates some intricate choreography. I'm truly not complaining. I am glad it's not very big. If it were, I know the messes I make while cooking would be proportional to the space I have, so I'm grateful I have my little kitchen. I haven't quite yet mastered the art of 'cleaning up as you go.' I must have skipped that particular life skill class, but that's not important right now. I (boldly) chose to paint my freakishly small cozy and cottage-like kitchen a Tiffany blue, which has a lovely Caribbean feel to it and my accents are black, red, and white. And I had the cabinet doors removed because being... Continue reading
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I'm still recovering from the LA Cuban Festival last weekend. Thanks to all of you who came out and said hello. Also, if you have a photo of us together (and we look cute), please send it to me! Today's post is really a PSA for Cuban Heritage Day at Dodger Stadium. Cuban Heritage Day at Dodger Stadium is coming up next month on August 17th, 2014. I would love to see as many of you there as possible, which is why I'm sharing this today. I promise you won't want to miss it. In case you were wondering about my love for the Dodgers and last year's day, look here, and here. (Also, if you want to read a really cute story about my mom, Luza and a former famous Dodger player (full disclosure: she's a Yankees fan), click here.) Thing 1) You need tickets! Click on over to... Continue reading
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Me and Amy with Pitbull I love doing giveaways here on my blog. I seriously love hearing from you folks and I appreciate that you take the time to write out some thoughtful responses to my questions. Thanks for all your input. I'm delighted that I can now add to my growing list of "Best Cuban Restaurants in the LA Area." Thanks, guys! So, the LA Cuban Festival is coming up in about 10 days, people! I'm hoping to see some of you there. I wish I could give you all free tickets, but The People In Charge Of These Things have limited me to giving away a set of two tickets. (For which I'm totally grateful.) For those of you that are wondering how this is done, here's how I chose the winner. 1) I took the number of entries and entered that number in the True Random Number... Continue reading
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Living in Southern California, it's sometimes difficult to find Cubans living nearby. Which is why I'm super delighted to be involved in this year's LA Cuban Festival. It's the very best place to celebrate all the things that we love most about being Cuban. It's a wonderful event bringing together our people for a fun day of Cubania. There will be food, music, and all things Cuban. This pleases me greatly, because, as you know, I am always looking for the best places to get Cuban food in So Cal (but that's not important right now). I'll be there with my family and my extended LA Cuban Family: the guys from Wassup En LA, the folks from Cuban Heritage Day at Dodger Stadium, and many more. The LA Cuban Festival will be held at Rainbow Lagoon Park in Long Beach, California, on Sunday, July 13th, 2014 from 10:00am to 8:00pm.... Continue reading
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My son, Jonathan, graduated from high school a few weeks ago. As I've done with each one of my four kids, I asked what type of celebration he'd enjoy. The four of them have asked for completely different types of parties and I have tried my best to comply. in 2001, Amy wanted an All-Cuban theme, with all the family and her friends, Cuban music, and food. So that's exactly what we did. I made Arroz con Pollo for about 50 people. It was a wonderful success. 2004 - Adam wanted a really nice dinner with just his closest friends. And Lucy (class of 2011) wanted a "classy outdoor dinner party" with a showing of the Marx Brothers' film, A Night at the Opera. I have obliged them all. Warning: This is going to be a super loooong post with lots of photos and detailed descriptions and some serious over-sharing.... Continue reading