In the Green Room

A Good Cook With an Ugly Great-Grandmother

Historian Lillian Guerra Takes Questions in the Green Room

Lillian Guerra is a Cuba historian at the University of Florida. Before participating in a panel on Cuba in the American imagination, she took questions in our Green Room.

Q. What comforts you?
A. Food. Cooking more than food. So when I say food I mean cooking.

Q. Describe yourself in five words.
A. Aggressive, a good cook, ironic sense of humor. I’m an intellectual. And I’m Cuban-Kansan.

Q. What worries you the most?
A. The future of Cuba. And my baby.

Q. What teacher or professor changed your life?
A. Douglas Haynes and Leo Spitzer. [Dartmouth College professors]

Q. Who is the one person living or dead you’d most like to have dinner with?
A. My great-grandmother, a very ugly lady who was just hounded by every good- looking man in San Fuegos.

Q. If you could be anyone in history who would you be?
A. Magdalena Peñarredonda. She was a spy for the Cuban rebel army in the last independence war of 1895 to 1898.

Q. What was the last thing that inspired you?
A. A conversation I had with the son of Carlos Franqui, and that happened yesterday.

Q. How did you get in trouble as a child?
A. Oh God, how did I not get in trouble? I was hyperactive and my mother would stand me in the corner and my penance was to have me just jump up and down for five minutes. And I would feel so much better. I was also constantly asking questions and getting in people’s way.

Q. What is your favorite beverage?
A. It’s an amazing old Cuban cocktail called Sangria Habanera. It’s made with white wine, mango juice, key limes and ginger.

Q. What is the best gift you ever received?
A. My baby came back to life after being born dead. He was resuscitated.

Read more about the panel in which Guerra participated here.

*Photo by Aaron Salcido.