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Cuban box pig this Christmas Eve

Tom Hanchett, December 2010cubanpig

What food says “Christmas time” to you? If you are from Cuba, it’s pork, roasted til juicy and tender with sweet plantains and arroz congris (rice and black beans) on the side.

“Roast pork on Christmas Eve, it’s like turkey on Thanksgiving here,” rhapsodizes Belkis Plasencia, owner of A Piece of Havana restaurant.

In Latin America, December 24th is the day for family gatherings, rather than the 25th. So this Friday, Christmas Eve, the eatery will offer a traditional Cuban holiday meal from 5 pm til midnight.

Cuban-born Belkis started A Piece of Havana with her husband and her parents two years ago, not long after arriving in Charlotte from Florida. Planning menus, she remembers her grandmother, keeper of the family traditions in Cuba.

Her Christmas Eve pig will also honor her Florida connection. It’s prepared caja china style, developed by Cuban immigrants in Miami. A wood and stainless steel box holds a rack of coals, then the pig – marinated twelve hours the night before – then another rack of coals above.

Slow cooked, the meat simply falls away from the bone.


A Piece of Havana
11126 S. Tryon St. (near Carowinds Boulevard)
Charlotte, NC 28273
(704) 588 – 7883

Special Christmas Eve meals (roast pork, or rabo encendido [oxtail stew], or seafood paella )
Served this Friday 5 pm – midnight. Reservations suggested.


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