Monday, November 5, 2012
I long to visit Cuba and experience the vibrant culture I love so much. My plans haven't arrived just yet so the next best thing after regularly bathing in Cuban rhythms, is dipping into Cuban cuisine. I visited Chicago's newest Cuban restaurant, The Lazy Parrot and discovered a few Cuban delicacies that I had never tried, namely Ironbeer. The name doesn't sound very appealing but when the owner and his cute daughter assured me that it was "the national beverage," I was intrigued. Apparently, the soda was developed in Cuba in 1917 and contains a secret blend of fruit, herbs and spices that no one can ever put their finger on.
The soda's story of a mule-driven wagon carrying the soda to popular Havana cafeterias is quaintly written on the back of the can. Only now, the soda is manufactured in Miami, where the original family was exiled. The muscleman logo doesn't hoist the 500 pound weights in the original logo but the flavor is said to be the same. I'm not a big cola fan and I figured the caramel -colored soda would taste something like a cola so I ordered Coco Rico, a coconut flavored soda, instead. I love coconut in all forms but after a sip of my husband's Ironbeer, I forgot about Coco Rico. I was hooked on Ironbeer. The flavor is hard to describe but it tastes similar to cream soda, which I also love. The coconut soda was good but Ironbeer was great. The restaurant serves a range of Cuban sodas, including Jupina a pineapple soda, Materva, a soda made from yerba mate and Quinabeer, which tastes like champagne cola. But I couldn't pull myself away from the Ironbeer, which I sipped under a mural of a Cuban sunset.