Rafael Almeida and Armando Marsans made their major league baseball debut with the Cincinnati Reds on July 4, 1911. Both men were Cuban -- and as the national pastime was segregated back then, Reds management made sure to remind fans these players were purebred Spaniards with no African blood.
The 2011 Major League Baseball All Star Game will be held tomorrow, one century after these first Hispanic ballplayers took the field. There are no plans to honor Almeida and Marsans, nor to even mention them. In fact, the All Star Game is taking place in Arizona -- home of Senate Bill 1070, oft characterized as anti-immigration legislation. It might be noted that more than a quarter of all major leaguers are Hispanic, and the percentage of minor leaguers is even higher.
This info comes from a June 17 article by Jonathan Mahler for The New York Times entitled "From Jackie Robinson To Dead Silence." Although the game was awarded to Arizona in 2009 -- before Bill 1070 was introduced -- Mahler wonders why the baseball brass didn't think of switching the midsummer classic to another city during the intervening years -- or at the very least issuing some sort of statement. Too late now.
Still, Miami baseball fans can honor Almeida and Marsans by snacking on these delicious Frituras De Yuca Con Ajo (Garlicky Yucca Fritters) while watching Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Batista, Albert Pujols, and the other All Stars. The recipe, adapted from A Taste Of Old Cuba, follows.
(The adaptation, in this case, is an increase in garlic and addition of coarse black pepper and chopped cilantro).
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2 eggs, separated
3 small garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped fine
1 1/2 to 2 cups vegetable oil
1. Following the instructions on the package, boil the yucca until it is very tender.
2. Carefully remove and discard the wicklike palitos from the center of the vegetable and quickly place the hot yucca in a food processor (if the yucca cools, it hardens and becomes unmashable). Pulse it until it becomes a thick paste.
3. Add the egg yolks, garlic, lime juice, salt, pepper, and cilantro. Pulse until well mixed.
4. Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry and fold them into the yucca batter.
5. In a deep, heavy skillet, heat oil to about 375F degrees. Drop the batter into the hot oil by the teaspoonful -- no more than six at a time.
6. Fry the fritters until golden on all sides, remove, and drain on paper towels.
7. Place in a warm oven until all the batter has been fried. Serve hot.