Cuba and New Orleans are tied together in many ways, from our Creole flavors to our laid back attitude – but maybe most of all, in our music. Back in December of 2015, Louisiana Eats host Poppy Tooker had the opportunity to join the Preservation Hall Jazz Band on their landmark visit to Cuba for the Havana Jazz Festival. Over the course of a week there, Poppy took excursions into the countryside to learn about tobacco production and the art of cigar making, dined in delicious paladares, and toured markets and organic farms.

On this week’s show, we celebrate our relationship with our closest Caribbean neighbor by revisiting Poppy’s travels, illuminated by tour guide Viviana Rives. Then, we meet veteran travel agent Alina Fernández. She’s a Cuba native and president of Cuba Travel New Orleans, a company that specializes in organizing legal trips to Cuba. She helps explain the new travel restrictions and tells us about the trip she’s organized for the Havana Jazz Festival in January 2020.

Finally, we hear the remarkable story of Congreso Cubano, a pop-up and catering company that serves up traditional Cuban and Caribbean cuisine. Born to Cuban immigrants, owner Orlando Vega has taken his passion for his grandmother’s Cuban meals and turned it into a thriving business.

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