In the late 50’s in Cuba, my family always spent summers at the beach in Varadero. By family, I mean my five siblings, 14 cousins, parents, aunts, uncles, grandmother.
ALL OF US.
My big, fat, EXTENDED Cuban family.
The parents took turns commuting to and from Havana.
All of us cousins were there for the duration.
With so many mouths to feed, the families all chipped in to buy dishes for the summer house. At the time, the local "ten-sen" (ten cent store) had these bright colored dishes imported from the U.S. Bright and inexpensive. Not something you’d have in your home all the time (said the snobby girl from Havana =D), but perfect for the beach house. The aunts bought a ton of these in every color imaginable. Lunches and dinners were a veritable feast of color. And that was BEFORE the food was served.
I can still see that huge table set for 20 in a rainbow of dinnerware. And the fat Adirondack chairs on the porch also painted in these amazing colors.
The teapot in this picture is from the original set we used in Cuba at the beach house.
The company that makes these dishes is called Homer Laughlin and the line is called Fiesta. (how apropo!) The original dishes sold for about a dime apiece. Now they can be found in higher end stores and are much more expensive and are mostly the domain of serious collectors. Probably many, like me are transported back to a happier, simpler, more colorful time.
I started collecting Fiestaware a few years ago, adding a few new
pieces each year. My friend, Pam, knowing of my obsession, contributed
the bright red and yellow to my stack. Those colors affect all my
When I set my own table with these dishes, I am transported to that loud, colorful place that reminds me of my family. The colors are at once soothing and stimulating. I re-live the happy innocence of my Cuban youth. The varied colors represent an abundance and warmth that seemed ever-present at that beach house. They virtually scream Cuban hospitality. I would even argue (as most Cubans would) that Varadero is the most beautiful beach in the world. Those early childhood beach memories of mine play out in vivid technicolor.
Fast forward to this weekend and our local Lowe’s Home Improvement Center.
I have a vision.
A bright, colorful, childish, Cuban vision.
And a very indulging husband. =D