What It’s Like Being Cuban In Los Angeles
Los Angeles is an incredibly diverse city — Chinese immigrants, Armenians, Persians, Koreans, Thai folks, Filipinos, Salvadorans, Indians, Ethiopians, black Americans and many other groups have left indelible imprints on the city, its neighborhoods, art, food and culture. But it’s no exaggeration to say that the heart and soul of Los Angeles? Is Mexican. Mexican culture and identity forms the core of this city, so while there are countless places to get the best tacos, tortas and pan dulce you’ve ever tasted, it’s slightly more difficult to find, say, a good croqueta or tin of guayaba. It can lead to some interesting situations for Cubans living in and moving to this city!
Let’s take a closer look at what it’s like to be a Cuban who moves to Los Angeles:
1. It can get a little lonely.
2. You feel a surge of pride whenever you see the José Martí sculpture in Echo Park.
En junio como en enero.
3. …And very disappointed to learn about the community’s issues with it.
Well, excuse you.
4. You’ll enjoy many arguments over the authenticity of Porto’s Bakery.
Their croquetas are unfuckwittable, but how you gonna call pastelitos “strudels”? Come on.
5. And, in fact, arguing over the few good Cuban restaurants within Los Angeles becomes a regular pastime.
Look, I’m just saying, if I have to go to Downey to find black beans hecho como en casa, I will die, no lie.
6. You have to take care not to offend everyone around you.
Because Mexican culture forms such a large part of L.A., you’ve got to be careful when using words like “fajar” and “cojer,” unless you want to get lots of horrified looks and nervous giggles.
7. You have tried and failed to find a specific ingredient you thought would be available in a Latino market.
OK, so Vallarta doesn’t carry membrillo or guayaba paste. Lesson learned 17 hours after running all around this ginormous freaking city, I GUESS.
8. And yet you keep hearing about these mysterious, roving band of suburban Cubans in places like Downey and Burbank.
OK, but where? And why don’t they have a ventanita on every corner, if that’s the case?
9. You will go through frita withdrawal.
Why. Can’t. I find them. In. This. CITY.
10. When you find a fellow Cuban, you suddenly become 99.7% more Cubanaz@.
The voice gets louder, the hands move around more, and your tendency to exaggerate goes up like literally a million percent.
11. You get to celebrate holidays a little differently.
Lechón y congri can’t be beat, but Mexican-style tamales are DELICIOUS around the holidays. And while Cubans don’t typically go all out on Día de los Muertos, Los Angeles’ celebrations are truly beautiful and inspiring.
12. No one knows wtf you mean by “pastel.”
Nooooo, when I said “pastelito de carne,” I didn’t mean meat cake!
13. You realize no one except Cubans understand the Cuban accent.
“Why are you yelling incoherently?” I’M WHISPERING, MENG.
14. …And that we’re far more malhablada than most of our Latino cousins.
Others: “Ow! Tripped on this pinche sidewalk.”
Us: “¡¡¡Coño!!! ¿Pero que clase de mierda es este sidewalk de carajo? Me cago en su madre.”
15. And you get lots of people trying (and failing) to guess where, exactly, you’re from.
“So you’re… Iranian, right? Armenian? Irish? Jamaican-Polish-Korean?” Sure. We’ll go with that.
But you know what’s awesome about being a Cuban here?
16. You get to learn about LOTS of cultures other than your own.
And that is pretty damn great.
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