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by Phillippe Diederich

SOFRITO by Phillippe Diederich

“Sofrito has the sweaty seduction of Havana’s streets and the warm spirit of its food. —Mark Kurlansky, author of Salt: A World History and Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World

“Peppered with cooking advice from chefs, ordinary folks, and celebrities including Fidel Castro himself (an advocate of pork), Phillippe Diederich’s Sofrito is a love letter to the deepest recesses of nostalgia’s heart.”—Cristina Garcia, author of Dreaming in Cuban and King of Cuba

“A moveable feast full of folkloric flavors, comical rhythms and magic. One man’s quest for the perfect spice leads him towards love for a woman and for his lost Cuba. In heaven, I know Oscar Hijuelos is smiling.” –Ernesto Quiñones, author of Bodega Dreams and Chango’s Fire

Frank Delgado is no thief. He co-owns a failing Cuban restaurant in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The restaurant, like Frank, is rudderless. Lost. He decides he’ll save the restaurant by traveling to Cuba to steal the legendary chicken recipe from the famed El Ajillo restaurant in Havana. The recipe is a state secret, so prized that no cook knows the whole recipe. But Frank’s rationale is ironclad— Fidel stole the secret from his family, so he will steal it back. He will triumphantly bring that recipe back to Manhattan and turn his fortunes around.

Frank has no interest in Cuba. His parents fled after the Revolution. His dead father spent his life erasing all traces of Cuba from his heart with barbeques, television, lawn mowing, and alcohol. So Frank is not prepared for the real Cuba. Sure, he gets beat up and almost killed, the secret service threatens him, but in the midst of the chaos, he falls in love with a prostitute and the city, and he unwraps the heroic story of his parents’ life. Cuba begins to bind Frank together, the way a good sofrito binds the flavors of a Cuban dish.

Phillippe Diederich is a Haitian-American writer and photojournalist raised in Mexico City and Miami, Florida. Dictator Françoise Duvalier forced his parents out of Haiti in the early 1960s. Phillippe grew up listening to stories of nostalgia, revolution, and exile. His young adult novel—Playing for the Devil’s Fire—is forthcoming from Cinco Puntos in Winter 2016.