I thought that I had died and gone to heaven when I saw it listed as one of the daily specials. I had eaten pigs feet before in a couple of different ways but never had them in stew.

Poor people food. Real food. I could see from the second it was put in front of me that it was going to be something special. It was like somebody’s grandmother being there to guide me – it was that personal of a dish – whispering in my ear that she only had 3 little old pigs feet but cooked them long enough to make them real tasty.

Other than the feet, the stew had only a few pieces of sausage, some pepper slices, onions, and green olives in it. They had been stewing so long that the thick skin was falling off the feet; rendered them into a tasty, sticky, gelatinous goo. The dish turned out to be one of the best things I’ve eaten on this trip.

Great food should always invoke a memory and so it was with each spoonful of this big decadent, pig feet, fatty, unctuousness thing that I recollected a tripe dish (done in the old Roman style) that I ate with Sarah in Rome a couple of years ago. That dish, like this one, was so thick and rich from having been so cooked down that it had an almost pudding like consistency. (Note: Tripe is not treated this way in Mexico. It is left chewy.)

And a further thought. There is tripe (or any offal for that matter) where, from the preparation through the cooking and eating processes, that dish rises up from the smelly and nasty to the realm of the sublime. And the tripe dish in Rome , just like its local Cuban cousin, the pig’s feet stew, did just that.

The Puerto Sagua Restaurant has been in South Beach for 51 years and owned by the same family for the past 45 years. That is some pretty serious Cuban food experience at work. The old man that owns the place dresses down like any other waiter in the place. His thin white hair is always neatly combed back as he spends what I gather is most of his day gazing out onto the street through one of many windows always with a slightly sad look of melancholy unconcern.

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