The Sanchez family, consisting of the mother and Maria, thought the purpose of the supper was to acquaint them with the Taylor family. The purpose assumed was that Mr. Taylor was on the committee of naturalization and would put in a good word for them, so they could be granted citizenship. It sounded plausible but in fact Taylor was there to pump Mrs. Sanchez into revealing where her husband had gone. Carlos Sanchez was to be used as a point man for the invasion of Cuba and America wished to help him and yet keep that help under the radar.
Cuba was getting to friendly with Russia and we were terrified of a nuclear war. So, if questioned we knew to avoid admitting that we were involved in the invasion. It was that reason that Robert was undercover. His cover was that he was gathering information to naturalize some of the Cuban families who had left the island. But, he was trying to enlist the aid of the Cuban underground and aid them in invading Cuba and wrestling it back from Castro’s control.
The meal went well. Barry was used to the food fare of his mother. Basically, meat and potato. Hamburgers and fries. Pancakes and syrup. This was a new experience for him as he now was served real Cuban food cooked in the kitchen by a cook hired for the affair. The super consisted of soup, salad, a main course and a dessert. But it was a disaster. The Sanchez’s were not aware of the fact that Robert’s wife, Roberta, was a vegetarian. Robert was not but acknowledged his wife’s right not to eat meat and here at the Sanchez table was soup. Roberta knew that the soup had been made with chicken stock and therefore not for her. Robert covered for her by saying how he loved the soup and therefore ate her soup also. George and Barry were not vegetarian much to Roberta’s displeasure.
Then came the salad and this Roberta could eat. Then came the main course, a dish called Picadillo. Mother did not want to be rude so she asked for the ingredients as if to say she would attempt to duplicate the meal.
Mrs. Sanchez did not seam to feel it was rude and said, “Picadillo is made with ground beef, tomato paste.
“It has a pinch of sazon goya which you might not be famialiar with.”
“You are right, can you describe it.”
”It’ s a combination of quite a few ingredients. It has cumin, turmeric, salt and oregano as its base, Oh, and coriander is in it too.”
Everyone dug in and there was smiles around the table.
The dessert was flan. And that was the highlight of the meal for all concerned.
“I am sorry that my husband, Carlos was not here. But since he is not here I am sure he would want to give you this,” and with that statement Mrs. Sanchez gave Robert a cigar out of a very ornate box.
It was a special cigar, a Cohiba, the preferred cigar of Castro and considered very fine. It was a cigar given in diplomatic meetings and considered quite a gift.
Robert put it in his coat pocket and said he would smoke it later. With that the supper was over and the two families parted hopefully as friends.
Barry did not understand anything about why his family was over to the Sanchez’s house for dinner. He only knew he got to see Maria outside of the school. But it was not a date and yet Barry did not want the kids at the school to know of the dinner. He figured the fallout would be teasing the rather mild interaction of Maria and himself.
Barry did not know it at the time but his father had gotten a couple pieces of information from the conversation at the meal. Admittedly it was awkward and stilted with occasionally long periods of silence. But he did note the Bay of Pigs picture and put that in the back of his mind for later consideration. He also found out where Mr. Sanchez worked and a few of his friends that he would investigate.