born 1923

Though she spent her early childhood Manhattan, Nitza Villapol is a modern Cuban icon. With education in teaching + nutrition, it was only natural for her to pitch her "home cooking school" to execs in the new media landscape: television. For Nitza, cooking was political, effecting social change. After all, what we eat is how we live...and Nitza nailed the winning combo of food + identity.

Cocina al Minuto ~ the show that ran a record-making 40+ years ~ made her the woman who taught generations of Cubans how to cook. Her contradictory public image is of a woman both embittered + heroic, both ridiculed + tragically misunderstood. But there's no doubt...her influence on la cocina cubana is limitless.

bio bits


her quotes

all quotes by Nitza Villapol (9)

"Cooking—surely—is an art, an art for every nation, a minor art that forms part of the culture of the people."

Cocina Cubana {cited by JMI Traduzioni & Corsi di Lingue} | 1956

"Instead of asking what ingredients were needed to make this or that recipe, I began to wonder what recipes were possible with the products available."

¿Quién va a comerse lo que esa mujer cocina? | unknown

"What does the Cuban homemaker have and what can be done with it?"

Miami Herald {quoted in her obituary} | 1991

"It's not easy to grow old. Young people think we're dead but still breathing."

Trading with the Enemy | september 1992

"I like to breathe while I read a book."

Trading with the Enemy | september 1992

"I used to think it was very important to be popular. Now I don't give a damn."

Trading with the Enemy | september 1992

"The harm isn't in sugar but in the way people use it."

Trading with the Enemy | september 1992

"You don't need meat to be well fed."

Trading with the Enemy | september 1992

"We may not have anything left to eat, but we still have our dignity. If it's necessary, we will do our cooking with firewood. We will do anything except surrender!"

Castro's Final Hour | october 1993
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curated with care by Meghan Miller Brawley {july 2015}