Culture

The Legendary Cuban Baker Rosa Porta Died on Friday at the Age of 89

The Los Angeles community is grieving after learning the news that Rosa Porto, founder of the legendary Cuban bakery Porto’s, died on Friday. The news was announced via Porto’s Instagram page. Porto was 89.

According to the business’s Instagram page, Rosa Porto “passed peacefully” on Friday “surrounded by her loving husband and family”. The post went on to describe Porto as an “incredible woman” who began her illustrious career by “selling cakes and pastries to friends and family”.

Porto’s started off humbly enough, with Rosa started her business by baking cakes for her children before her neighbors started asking her to make cakes for them.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Porto and her family emigrated from Manzanillo, Cuba to Los Angeles in the early 1970s. Their story is a common one for Cuban emigres, with the family leaving Cuba to escape the oppressive Castro regime. “You lived in a little bit of fear,” Porto told the Los Angeles Times in October. “When you requested to leave, they fired you from your job.” In Cuba, Rosa and her husband struggled to thrive in the communist government. Rosa lost her job as a manager at a cigar distributor and her husband, Raul, was sent to work at a labor camp. 

According to the Portos, the relocation was difficult for the family, who came to the U.S. “flat broke”. While Raul took work as a janitor, Rosa baked and sold cakes to neighbors in her Cuban community. But as the demand for Rosa’s baked goods increased, the Portos saw an opportunity for growth. 

The Portos’ empire began in 1976 with a small bakery in a strip-mall in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Silver Lake.

And although the family-owned bakery sold Rosa’s famous Cuban cakes that originally made her popular, they also expanded their menu to reflect local demographics. “We made Mexican bread because that was the neighborhood. We started changing based on whatever the clientele demanded,” Porto’s daughter, Margarita Navarro told the LA Times. “We wanted to be welcoming to everyone,” said Antonio Salazar, Porto’s VP of production.

And evidently, their business plan worked. Anyone who’s ever visited one of the three locations scattered throughout Los Angeles is immediately struck by the seemingly never-ending influx of customers. The bakeries were notorious for their long lines and chaotic dining rooms. According to the Porto siblings, the bakeries would sell on average 520,000 potato balls and more than a million cheese rolls on a monthly basis. “If we didn’t have the volume, we’d have to raise the prices,” Rosa’s daughter, Betty Porto, told the LA Times in 2016. The Porto’s business plan is part of what makes it so great. In 2016, Yelp named Porto’s the “Best Restaurant in the Country” based off of positive reviews.

Although Rosa Porto will be missed by both her family and the LA community, her legacy will be remembered as that of a hardworking businesswoman and a loving mother and grandmother.

According to the company’s Instagram post, Porto retired from running the bakery in her late 60s to “focus her love and passion on raising her seven grandchildren”. The family concluded the announcing of her passing with this heartfelt statement: “To all of our family, friends, and guests from across our communities: though there are no words that can convey our sadness at this time, we would like to express our sincere gratitude for all the love and kindness you have shown us throughout the years”. 

Naturally, Angelenos have taken to Twitter to express their condolences over the loss of this legendary Latina matriarch.

One could say that Porto’s was integral in shaping the LA food scene into what it is today.

This person had massive praise for Rosa Porto and her legacy:

Not many restaurants can claim the same sort of cultural impact that Porto’s can.

This person shared how integral Porto’s has become in their personal life:

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that there is always a Porto’s box at an LA party.

This Latina shared how Porto’s helped rep Cubano culture in the best way:

Porto’s: saving Cuban mothers’ time since 1976.

This person summed up Rosa Porta’s legacy wonderfully in a single Tweet:

What better legacy to leave behind than pure happiness for thousands of people? Rest in peace, Rosa Porto.

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In Cuba, Where Food Is Unreliable, Savvy Cooks Have Turned to Facebook to Share Recipes

Culture

In Cuba, Where Food Is Unreliable, Savvy Cooks Have Turned to Facebook to Share Recipes

Photo via Getty Images

COVID-19 hasn’t been easy for Cubans. Not only have Cubans been physically affected by the virus like the rest of the world, but the drop in the island’s gross domestic product has stymied local economic productivity. The island can no longer look to tourism to add to their GDP.

Because of this drop in GDP, food shortages on the island have become more severe than in recent memory. And Cuban cooks are feeling the effects.

Cubans must stand in line for hours at markets with no guarantees that the ingredients that they want will be available.

This way of living is especially hard for Cuban cooks, like 39-year-old Yuliet Colón. For Colón, cooking is both a creative expression and a stress reliever. “The kitchen is my happy place, where I am calmer and I feel better,” she recently revealed to the Associated Press.

Yuliet Colón is one of the creators of a Facebook page called Recetas del Corazón that has changed the cooking game for thousands of Cubans.

Now, thanks to Colón and other curious and generous Cuban cooks like her, Recipes from the Heart is now 12,000 members strong.

The goal of the page is to help struggling Cuban cooks cope with food shortages. Members of the page share creative recipes, tips, and food substitutions. Launched in June of 2020, the page was an instant success. Its success proves that Cubans have been desperate to find ways to adapt their cooking to the post-COVID-era.

To AP News, Yuliet Colón laments about the lack of rice, beans, cheese, fruit, and, most of all, eggs. “What I like the most is making desserts, but now it’s hard to get eggs, milk or flour,” she revealed.

The brightside is, however, that Cuban cooks are finally able to share food-related tips and tricks with each other on a much larger scale than they were before the internet became more widespread in the country.

Now that many Cubans have access to communication apps like Facebook and WhatsApp, they can now connect with one another and make the most of what they have–however little that may be.

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Naya Rivera Was Remembered In A Touching Tribute Featuring The Beatles’ ‘Here Comes The Sun’ By Demi Lovato

Entertainment

Naya Rivera Was Remembered In A Touching Tribute Featuring The Beatles’ ‘Here Comes The Sun’ By Demi Lovato

Months have passed with quite a few additional ups and downs but Demi Lovato hasn’t forgotten about her late friend and former Glee costar, Naya Rivera. Five months after Rivera’s body was found following a disappearance during a boating trip with her son, Lovato paid a tribute to the actress on Instagram.

In a post shared to her Instagram story on Sunday, the “Sorry Not Sorry” singer, remembered Rivera in a video.

Demi Lovato/ Instagram

Lovato shared a video of the gleaming sun while she was on a hike and captioned the video “Miss You [Naya Rivera].” In a reference to a song that Lovato sang with Rivera, the singer played a clip of The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” in the background.

Lovato and Rivera’s characters (Dani and Santana Lopez) fell in love after singing “Here Comes the Sun” during a shift at a diner in the fifth season of the musical drama series.

Rivera’s body was found in Lake Piru in Ventura County, California on July 13.

Her body was found five days after she disappeared during a boat excursion with her 5-year-old son Josey. Soon after Rivera was found, Lovato reflected on her costar writing that she would “forever cherish” her role as Rivera’s girlfriend on the series.

“RIP Naya Rivera. I’ll forever cherish the opportunity to play your girlfriend on Glee,” Lovato wrote on Instagram at the time. “The character you played was groundbreaking for tons of closeted queer girls (like me at the time) and open queer girls, and your ambition and accomplishments were inspiring to Latina women all over the world.”

“My heart goes out to your loved ones at this time.. ❤️🕊,” she wrote at the end of her caption.

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