The Miami airport

August 11, 2023 • 1:00 pm

Miami isn’t one of my favorite American airports, as it’s large and unwieldy, but it does have decent food.  Scouting the offerings on the internet, I found that there’s a highly-rated Cuban restaurant in Terminal D, close to my departure gate. Here it is:

I knew what I wanted: ropa vieja (“old clothes”), a shredded and stewed mess o’ beef, black beans and rice, and platanos maduros (fried bananas). And they had these things, and, as Hemingway would say, I deserved them and they were good. I added arroz con leche (rice pudding) for dessert. No Cuban coffee for me, though, as it’s very strong and I wouldn’t be able to sleep tonight.

Here’s my lunch. Only $19, very filling, and inexpensive for an airport:

By the way, the Hemingway trope comes from his wonderful short story Big Two-Hearted River, in which Nick Adams, back from World War I, where he was badly wounded (as was Hemingway), goes fishing in Michigan to recover. His wartime trauma is never mentioned, only implied, which is what makes the story great. But I remember the food bit in that story: Nick backpacks to the river to fish, but takes along a can of beans and a can of spaghetti. He tells himself that if he’s willing to carry those heavy items in his pack, he deserves to enjoy them.

In honor of that story, I once mixed a can of prepared spaghetti (no meat) and a can of pork and beans and ate them. And damn if it wasn’t good!

Hemingway knew what he was about, though later he’d be eating potato salad and quaffing beer in Paris, as he describes in his book A Moveable Feast:

“It was a quick walk to Lipp’s and every place I passed that my stomach noticed as quickly as my eyes made the walk an added pleasure. There were few people in the brasserie and when I sat down on a bench against the wall with the mirror in the back and a table in front and the waiter asked if I wanted beer I asked for a distingue, the big glass mug that held a liter, and potato salad.

The beer was very cold and wonderful to drink. The pommes a l’huile were firm and marinated and the olive oil delicious. I ground black pepper over the potatoes and moistened the bread with the olive oil. After the first heavy draft of beer I drank and ate very slowly.”

Hemingway didn’t write about food very often, but when he did it always gets your saliva flowing

16 thoughts on “The Miami airport

  1. Wo HOO! I’ve been looking forward to “our” trip for awhile. Keep the travelogues coming. Then I don’t have to leave my apartment!
    happy travels,

    1. According to Hemingway:

      There were few people in the brasserie [Lipp] and when I sat down on the bench against the wall with the mirror in back and a table in front and the waiter asked if I wanted beer I asked for a distingue, the big glass mug that held a liter, and for a potato salad. The beer was very cold and wonderful to drink. The pommes à l’huile were firm and marinated and the olive oil delicious.

      My only criticism would be: Hemingway being American is not aux fait with the metric system and how the French and a large proportion of the English-speaking world spell litre.

  2. Yes, Miami has the best airport food in the US and the best Hispanic/Latino cuisine but also coffee. Look for a stand stand selling Colombian coffee there if you want the BEST coffee! By the way, dark (double roast) coffee has less caffeine than regular coffee. The meal you ate and showed was one I”ve made often over the years. There is a similar one made with ground beef and olives. Hope you use good hot sauce! My favorite brand is Yucateco (red very hot, green a bit less so). In Colombia most places serve second rate Colombia coffee and export the good stuff though Bogota and the university you get the good stuff. Hispanic/Latino breakfasts are also great….tortillas, eggs, the works…..not to mention fresh tropical fruit.

  3. Lipp’s is still going strong, very popular and quite expensive! I went there back in 1977, almost by accident, and it was great. I’ve been back a few times, most recently about five years ago, and it was still great, but with prices to match.

    If I may be permitted a blatant family plug, my son is currently head chef at a restaurant in Paris called Fugazi, in Rue Lacherriere. It’s closed for the summer just now, but worth a visit come the autumn.

  4. Hem also wrote about La Closerie des Lilas, in Montparnasse, which you can reach in a serene long walk down a tree-lined boulevard trailing south from the Luxembourg Gardens. It’s a fine place still.

  5. I’ve only flown to and from there once, but the ‘from’ leg of the journey was very fun – unwieldy as the place may be, it had – oh, glory! – a smoking area beyond security. Took me a while to get to it, but that it exists at all was wonderful, given the rarity of such facilities here in Europe. (Saying that, the only other place I’ve found one in recent years was Salzburg Airport – a tiny, tiny place.)

  6. Technically, ropa vieja is the shredded meat, a dish from Jewish Sephardic origin. The rice with black beans is called “moros y cristianos” (Moors and Christians). Venezuelans call the fried banana plantains “barandas” (guard rails) as they keep the other food from falling off the plate.

  7. From the pic, it looks as though you were served congri, in which the beans and rice are cooked together, rather than the standard beans and rice, in which the rice (preferably yellow, though white will do) is served on the dinner plate and the black beans on the side in a bowl, to be poured over the rice (at least in the case of most diners, including yours truly).

  8. My best airport food was in Singapore, we were dropped in the Amarna hotel for the night waiting for the flight to Manilla. I’m not sure that would qualify as ‘airport food’. But it was delicious, one could choose from three buffets: European, Chinese or Malayan. I charged my plate with the latter, it was absolutely exquisite. One of my top three culinary experiences in my life, and I have had some great food. Top three, and possibly no1, is a reference.
    There were also several polite and discrete notes shoved under my door of prostitutes giving their numbers. I did not respond (I was after my estranged wife then), but with hindsight, if the food was anything to go by, I missed out on some great experiences there.

    1. You and I have at least two things in common: one, I’ve always found Miami’s airport to be pretty good for people watching. Too, I’m also a huge fan of the Hemingway classic big two hearted river, and it’s what got me hooked on him way back in high school, ironically after I had already been backpacking, taking along a can of spaghetti and meatballs for the ride. Also ironically, the only thing Nick Adams drank was coffee, and I would go on to write the definitive guide to Hemingway‘s drinks, to have it and have another: a Hemingway cocktail companion. Go figure.

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