Growing up in New Orleans, Bayou Bakery chef David Guas would spend the weekend with his grandfather touring the city’s Cuban grocery stores and butcher shops. The older man passed away when Guas was 10, but not before instilling in him an appreciation of crackers and cheese with guava paste, syrupy malta drinks and cigar-smoking meat cutters. “You’re super proud of your grandfather and he was a perfect person—in my eyes he was godly,” Guas recalls.
He says that he had dreamed of visiting his grandfather’s and father’s native Cuba “since I was old enough to remember my dreams,” but travel restrictions kept him grounded. When President Obama began thawing relations with Cuba during his presidency, Guas and his father, Mariano, finally made the dream a reality. In 2016, Food & Wine magazine published an article following the pair as they visited the culinary sites that Mariano still remembered after nearly 60 years. Not long after, they made a return trip with a Cuban film crew in tow. The result: A new YouTube series called Forbidden Feasts.
The first episode, which chronicles the father-and-son team’s arrival in Cuba, premieres today, May 20, on YouTube to mark Cuban Independence Day. The seven additional episodes will debut each week on Wednesdays. The pair’s adventures range from making flan with a former neighbor and her granddaughter using their government rations to finding enviable pressed Cubanos at a sidewalk stand.
Bayou Bakery is currently closed, but when it reopens, it will satisfy Cuban cravings stoked by the series. Every Wednesday, Guas serves Cuban specials, including Cubanos, pastelitos con carne and picadillo with sweet plantains and yucca con mojo. There are even cortaditos, the powerful espresso drink that can power viewers into a late-night watching session of every episode of Forbidden Feasts.
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