Tuesday, April 2, 2019


There are certain lines in novels, poetry, song lyrics, that are unimproveable.  Take this very simple one from Donald Fagen’s ‘The Goodbye Look:’ ‘Won’t you pour me a Cuban Breeze, Gretchen?’

Now, coming up with the Cuban Breeze part can’t have been too hard, but the name of the pourer – that’s a thing you might have had to ponder.  And I believe you could spend the rest of your life trying to think of a better name than Gretchen and I believe you would fail.

This is what a Cuban Breeze looks like. Recipes differ wildly, but vodka, pineapple juice and amoretto seem to be the general requirements.

I was thinking about the Cuban Breeze because I was in a restaurant in Waterloo called Cubana – beans, plants, yucca, shrimps – all perfectly fine.  There’s a mural of Carmen Miranda outside, though Ms. Miranda of course was not Cuban, so I suppose the restaurant is all-purpose Latin.  There was no Cuban Breeze on the extensive cocktail menu.

And I found myself singing, mostly to myself, another couple of lines from ‘The Goodbye Look.’
‘I remember a line of women all in white, 
the laughter and the steel bands at night.’

And I mentioned this to my dining companions who doubted whether there were many steel bands in Cuba.  I did not have a view on this.
In fact I’m not even sure that ‘The Goodbye Look’ is set in specific place, but rather some all-purpose banana republic where the locals hate the colonists.  

But Mel Torme (aka the Velvet Frog) has no such doubts. In his version of the song, (which is 50% horrible - OMG – scat singing!! and he sings 'Won't you pour me a Cuban Breeze ... baby'!!! - and 50% pretty great) he bellows Cuba! Cuba! But he may just be ordering a drink.

         In fact at Cubana we eschewed the mojitos and the caipirinhas, the daiquiris and the fresh strawberry coladas, and had Polish beer, which came in a bottle that looked like this:

We agreed that this was the best beer label we’d seen in a very long time.  I kept mine as a souvenir.

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