The Cuban Corner follows American Dream to Cove
Fri, 2016-11-25 05:00 News Staff
By LYNETTE SOWELL
As of this week, there is a new food trailer in Copperas Cove, run by Juan Diago and Ileana Abascal.
Cuban born and raised, the Abascals recently took the plunge into starting their own business, the latest chapter in their American dream.
The Cuban Corner is now open Tuesday through Saturday on the corner of Business 190 and the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, in the parking lot of the Barking Oaks Pet Salon.
The trailer offers up several Cuban plates, including rice with black beans, served up with fried plantains, and grilled pork fillet or boneless fried chicken, as well as yellow rice with chicken and fried plantains. Ileana also prepares sandwiches like a Cuban with ham, cheese, pulled pork, pickles and mustard; pan con lechon, which is a pulled pork sandwich with sauteed onions and mojos sauce; or pan con bistec, a pork fillet on a Cuban. All sandwiches are made on hot pressed Cuban bread. In addition to water and soft drinks, they also serve mango juice and malta by the bottle.
Juan Diago, a mechanical engineer, was most recently a U.S. merchant marine, and Ileana worked as a teacher, teaching bilingual classes as part of the nationwide migrant education program. The couple came to the United States from Cuba in 2000.
“Most of my time I’m working overseas and I’m away from my family,” Juan Diago said. “So I decided to stay here with my family. We have some savings, so we are using her talent and the savings too.”
Ileana said she learned her cooking from her mother.
“She was a good cook. She passed away in 2005,” Ileana said. “I think she would be very excited about (our food trailer). Everything I learned, I learned from her.”
Juan Diago described the difference between Cuban and other Latin cuisines.
“We don’t put spice. Mexican and South American cuisine is basically spicy cuisine. They put a lot of chile. But Cuban cuisine comes from Spanish cuisine,” he said, adding that “we treat the flavor.”
Cuban cuisine uses seasonings like oregano, cumin, garlic, paprika and salt.
“We also use sweet pepper, they call it here.” Juan Diago said they offer hot sauce if diners wish to add it to their sandwiches.
The Abascals hope to open a storefront in a couple of months, and plan to stock it with items Juan Diago has picked up in his travels around the world.
He said they chose Copperas Cove for their business and were able to secure the prime spot with the help of the owners of Barking Oaks Pet Salon, calling them very helpful people.
The Cuban Corner has already received a visit from the city’s Parks & Recreation Department events coordinator, and they have learned about the Krist Kindl Markt and the city’s tree lighting ceremony coming up on Thursday.
“People from the city here are very helpful. We came here, talked to them, did the application,” Juan Diago said. The trailer will be at the tree lighting ceremony on Thursday.
He also talked about what the opportunity to open their own business means to them, which is something they couldn’t do in Cuba.
“Everything is different there; the quality of life, education. This is the best country in the whole world,” he said. “I’ve been around the world three times. Nothing can be compared to this country. If anyone is unhappy, they need to go to South American and look. I took (Ileana) to Europe last year. We went to France, to Spain, to Italy. Nothing is like it here.”
Ileana agreed. “The economic situation is very bad there. That is something people can’t see every day. They say, oh, it’s so good over there. But it’s not. After you go and compare with this country, you can see, how good this one is.”
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