This Comforting Dish Connects Me With My Cuban Roots—but It’s Complicated

“It’s short for the color, you know; that’s why it’s called congrí,” my dad tells me, as he has dozens of times before. “When you cook them together, the beans turn the rice gray. Con-gris, with-gray,” he says in a singsong cadence with hand motions to…

“It’s short for the color, you know; that’s why it’s called congrí,” my dad tells me, as he has dozens of times before. “When you cook them together, the beans turn the rice gray. Con-gris, with-gray,” he says in a singsong cadence with hand motions to match.

It was 2011, and I was a freshman in college. Just a few hours earlier he’d picked me up from the local park-and-ride. I’d taken the bus home from college for the weekend, a trip that became more and more frequent as my misery at school mounted. Only a few months into the school year, I realized that getting good grades and actually wanting to be there were two different things.

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Why Isn’t Everyone Talking About Cuban Pizza?

I have to pick up my partner, John, from Miami International Airport. His flight arrives past midnight, and while this may cause many locals to groan, I’m actually excited. Any reason to be in the western parts of M…

I have to pick up my partner, John, from Miami International Airport. His flight arrives past midnight, and while this may cause many locals to groan, I’m actually excited. Any reason to be in the western parts of Miami-Dade County is also a reason to have pizza cubana. The existence of two 24-hour Cuban pizzerias minutes from Miami’s airport also means that we've created our own tradition of treating ourselves to these cheesy, fluffy pizzas any time one of us flies into MIA.

This particular style of pizza is said to have originated on Varadero Beach in Cuba, a popular holiday destination for many people on the island. Allegedly, the originator moved to Miami after the communist revolution and reopened his famous pizzeria, Montes de Oca. Visit any of the handful of locations scattered across western Miami, and the sign will remind you that it is the original Cuban pizza.

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