I hope everyone had a great Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) on November 1. In the U.S. we call it All Souls Day, and this holiday never caught on much here for some reason, but it’s big in some countries where people observe the day by visiting cemeteries. This holiday needs a good P.R. firm to sell it to the American public. The church should hire the same firm that made kale a hot item. I mean, if you can sell kale, you can sell the Day of the Dead. Right?
Anyway, as it turns out I spent the Day of the Dead (and Halloween) in Cuba where they don’t celebrate any religious holidays, including Christmas, but where every day is the Day of the Dead. As you know, my next book is set in Cuba which was why I was there, wondering why I didn’t set my next book in Aruba. Cuba is a very unhappy place, but the people were friendly and they were looking forward to the expected influx of American tourists. Little do they know about American tourists.
The good news was that I didn’t see a single Starbucks and no one has heard of kale. But that might all change. Glad I got there now.
I could go on about Cuba for pages, but I’ll save that for my book. Meanwhile, I’m reading Graham Greene’s Our Man in Havana which I highly recommend. I’d read it about thirty years ago, but now that I’ve been to Cuba it has more meaning, and considering it was published about six months before Castro took over, it was very prescient.
On the subject of book recommendations, let me also recommend two cookbooks which will be useful for the holidays. The first is Taste of Poetry, put out by the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association. I’m an honorary board member there and I wrote a blurb for this interesting and unique collection of poems and recipes.
The second cookbook is The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook: Wickedly Good Meals and Desserts to Die For. I contributed John Corey’s recipe for Pigs in the Blanket and this alone is worth the price of the book.
Both cookbooks are fun and user-friendly and the proceeds go to supporting the written word.
On Veteran’s Day I had dinner with a group of Vietnam veterans as I do every year. We are not getting any younger, and we can’t remember how many drinks we’ve had. Actually, this has always been a problem and may not be age-related.
In any case, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the men and women who have served and who have sacrificed for this country. I’m glad that a special day is set aside to honor them. My nine-year-old son said to me on November 11, “Thank you for your service, Daddy.” Does it get any better than that? He also said, “And thank you for the day off from school.” Priceless.
And finally, Thanksgiving is almost here. After my eight days in Cuba I have no trouble thinking of things to be thankful for. Turkey is not one of them, but I like Wild Turkey on the rocks. I’m also thankful that I’m free to write what I want to write, say what I want to say, and practice my religion or not practice my religion.
So Happy Thanksgiving. Don’t eat too much, take a pass on the kale, and ditto on the goat cheese.
See you in December.
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