Cuban Black Beans and Rice (Moros y Cristianos)


I’m back.

I know it’s been awhile. But, ummm, I’m sure you forgive me. I’m back in Houston with my children and my husband, and my dad is still sick, but getting better everyday. No more dialysis. No more fever. The heart is ticking away all on its own. The respirator, gone, gone, gone. He’s still in ICU and heavily sedated, but yesterday he squeezed his hand, opened his eyes, and moved his neck. . . .all great news.

But. . ..and there is a but. . . .throughout all the craziness. . . .not sleeping. . .flying out to see my father. . .late nights, early mornings, doctors. . .nurses. . . .blah, blah, blah. . . .I’ve uhhhhh. . .come face to face with some of my deepest fears.

Losing a loved one. One of my favorite people in the world.

Crashing on a plane.

Flying home on Sept. 11th didn’t really help assuage my fears.

 Having my children call me by their ‘stand in’ caregivers name.

And. . . . .perhaps the most terrifying of them all.. . . . . .speaking Spanish. Which, anyone who has ever been to Miami knows, is a MUST.


Do I have a Bachelors degree in Spanish?  Yes I do.
Did I study in SPAIN for 6 months?  Yes I did.
Can I speak Spanish?  Yes, I can.
Do I speak Spanish? No I don’t.


I don’t know. My stomach gets in knots. My tongue suddenly grows fat and floppy.  My brain turns into mush.  And all I can think about is my dad (who has the WORST Spanish accent in the WORLD) laughing and smiling in his charming way with all his friends pretending that he’s Cuban.  And if he hadn’t been in ICU at the time of my visit to Miami, every chance that he got he would have shoved me into a circle of his friends and announced, “MY DAUGHTER SPEAKS SPANISH.”  And then, like always everyone would have stared at me, egging me on to say something. And then some knucklehead would say something entirely too fast for me to understand, and I would squint and lean forward trying to decipher their words. Only to respond back with my rudimentary “No hablo perfectamente. ” I don’t speak perfectly.

Then, they’d look at me like I’m the biggest let down since SPAM, and we all go on our merry way with them translating every Spanish word to me, even though I understand most of it.

So on this trip to Spain, I mean Miami, since my dad was well ummmm. . . .otherwise disposed, I didn’t speak one word of Spanish. I pretended to be an idiot every single time someone uttered a single syllable of this lovely Latin language, and didn’t say a word.

I went to the grocery store. I kept my eyes low, my smiles shy. Please don’t talk to me. Please don’t talk to me.  

One grocery clerk, speaking Spanish, asked me if I needed any help. And I did. For the life of me I couldn’t find the Granola Bars. I did need help. But he asked in Spanish. And all I could do was stare at him, and and shake my head sickly from left to right, with a half frown, half impish look on my face. He turned to walk away. . . .my brain was screaming ” Si. Si!!! Necesito ayudar. No puedo encontrar las barras de granola.” (Yes. Yes! I need help. I can’t find the granola bars.)  But my mouth wouldn’t open. And when he walked away, so did my dream of finding the Nature’s Valley Oat and Honey Granola Bars. And I really needed those crunchy lovelies to brighten my day. So instead I resorted the the weird brown cookies nestled on the shelf in front of me.

Alas, why do I fret so?
Why do I allow my fears to hold me back, keep me from the things I love?
Why,  when I know something, does my EGO tell me I don’t, and hover and whisper rude things into my brain and make me feel as if I’m a ding a ling.

Why. Oh why?

I didn’t speak Spanish on my trip to Miami.
And my plane didn’t crash.
My father is doing much better.
But my kids did call me Grammi for a day straight.

I guess things could be worse.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

So now you know. I’m a woos. Or a wuss. Or a wooz. And a bad speller. And too lazy to look it up.

Additionally, I’m a little fat after my trip to south Florida.
While not speaking the native tongue, I chose to use my tongue for other purposes. Like devouring slowly cooked pork, sweet fried plantains (bananas), and slowly melting thick custardy goodness of Flan. This is what I do when I’m stressed and not in ICU in Miami. I eat.

At vending machines.
At hospital cafeterias.
At cute Cuban Cafes and bustling French Bakeries.
I eat, get full, go back to ICU, and then eat again.

My brain can now think of nothing more than Cuba.
And it’s food.
And it’s beans.
And it’s rice.

This is my version of Moros Y Cristianos (Moors and Christians) named so after the deep ebony of the beans and the creamy whiteness of the rice and how together the polar opposites make a perfectly heaven sent dish that is a staple in the Cuban culture.


PS- You might notice in the photograph I used brown rice. I’m a rebel like that. Plus, I’m a Christian. And I’m brown, so I think I’m not pushing the envelope too much 🙂

PSS- I should also say that traditional Moros y Cristianos is served all mixed together. Like the second picture above. But. . . .it can also be served this way, and this is the way I like it best, so.  . .that is the way I made it.

Cuban Black Beans and Rice


1 pound of dry black beans
Chicken or Vegetable Stock (at least 5 cups) – i like chicken
1 large onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
3 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp oregano
2 bay leaves
2-3 teaspoons salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Cooked Rice


1. Place beans in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to boil. Allow to boil for 2 minutes, remove from heat and cover. Let sit for 1 hour covered. Drain and rinse. Add enough chicken stock to cover, return to stove and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to to a low simmer, and add onion, pepper, garlic, cumin, oregano, and bay leaves. DO NOT ADD SALT (that will make your beans tough) UNTIL THE BEANS ARE DONE COOKING. Continue to cook for 1 1/2 hours or until beans are soft and cooked through.
2.  Once the beans are cooked, mashed about 1/4 of the pot with the back of a wooden spoon to make the mixture thick. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot over cooked rice.

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