Thursday, July 17, 2008


I was scanning through things and I found a folder that I have with drafts of posts. It seems that I worked on some and never posted them. I will begin to do so. If they are repeats oh well, so sorry.

A while back I had breakfast at a neighborhood bakery. The novelty here was that it wasn't my neighborhood and it was on 8th street and 7th avenue in Miami near the car dealership where I took my car for service. Anyone who knows this area knows that it's in a very colorful neighborhood- Little Havana. My descriptions here won't do it justice but here goes nothing.

From the sidewalk when you look through the windows it just looks like a busy bakery selling morning pastries and coffees some for here and some to go as you hear the bells on the door jingle as it swings open letting customers come and go. The other thing you hear with the jingling which gets you going are clips of music. Music more suiting of a bar at 5:00 than a bakery at 9 in the morning. Salsa, Regeton. Fast paced, swing your hips music. I venture in. The music swallows me up and I realize that I am not just listening to the CD but to the waitresses singing. It's like I walked onto the set of a live musical but there are no props, it's all real.

There were all sorts of people sitting at the tables or at the counter eating everything from pastries and coffee, scrambled eggs and french fries to rice and beans. The 50-something year old Cuban man with his oversized beer belly, dockers that settle right under his paunch with a paisley dress shirt unbuttoned half way down to show his graying chest casually waiting for meat pastries and a cafe con leche at the counter. The couple in their 70's who were dressed in their Sunday best having obviously come from church. He held her chair to seat her and she held her pinky in the air as she drank her cortadito. The tired mom holding her head up with her hand leaning into the counter with maybe her sister or BF sitting at the counter with the 3 kids testing the spinablity of every stool. The old man nicely dressed out of style with his stately mother who walked in as if she were the Queen of Sheba. Her son actually dusted off the chair with -wait for it - his handkerchief before she sat down. The young guys coming in to get a days worth of food to put in the styrofoam cooler to go fishing and moi. I walked in with a book in my hand thinking I'd have a quite cafe con leche and read for a while. Right. There were people standing in "line" three deep at the counter and at the register. She took my order from 3 people back and told me to go ahead and sit, she'd bring it out. I found a seat at a table full of the plastic red baskets but no people so I piled them up, put them in a corner of the table and sat. The were men next to me that were arguing about sports, the stool testing kids were begging their mom for cookies, the waitresses were singing and here comes my Cafe con leche and there goes the pile of plastic baskets. The man asks me if I'm having breakfast, the "revoltillo" is the best in town. As far as I know Revoltillo is scrambled eggs, how good can it be. I smile and tell him maybe I'll try it. The waitress still singing and dancing as she comes over brings them a cafecito and he tells her I want to order food. I nod, order the scrambled eggs with bacon, potatoes and toast. Other waitress are sashaying by with pastries and coffees etc. Enter a group of teens looking like they haven't slept. Seemingly neighborhood kids that don't always pay/tip well. None of the waitress wanted to take their order and they all tried to pawn them off on each other. In comes a man with a belly like Santa and shirt 72 sizes too small and a toddler with the chubbiest face you can imagine. He sets the child down in front of the cookie display and the child begins to dance. The entire place stopped. You know those Visa checkcard commercials where everyone is busing along and then they stop cuz someone paid with a check. Well, this kid was the guy with the check. EVERYONE stopped to watch and he reveled in the spotlight. First boppin up and down then the head from side to side. When the largest of the waitresses comes out and gets on her knees and starts shimmying her shoulders towards him he does too. It was a hoot! The entire place started laughing. The song changed, people started hooting and hollering and applauding and the kids started giggling and life in the bakery resumed at its original pace. I got my order with ham not bacon, she apologized and asked if she had to change it. I told her not to bother. It was scrambled eggs with ham in it, a side of shoestring french fries a generous helping of Cuban bread slathered with butter and squashed to the thinness of my plate. The man was apparently waiting for me to try it. It was good. I told him. He smiled and left. It really was good. I asked her what they put in it. Butter. wow. I can't begin to tell you all the people that came into the place, the orders that were placed, that were gotten wrong and forgiven and eaten as it was. The kids got their cookies on the house and you could see mom was grateful as she counted out change to pay for the cafe con leche everyone had for breakfast. I paid for my breakfast and left a $20 tip for a $3.50 breakfast. The show was worth every penny. I had a blast.


sari said...

You know, it's nice to just sit back and enjoy the moment, isn't it?

Thanks for sharing this, it sounds like a perfect morning to me.

Hilda said...

See? What you described - the essence of Little havana - is just one reason why it's going to be so difficult for me to leave Miami some day...