Aug 132016
 

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On this date, the Lutheran church celebrates Clara Louise Maass (June 28, 1876 – August 24, 1901) in its Calendar of Saints. She was a nurse from the US who died as a result of volunteering for medical experiments to study yellow fever.

Clara Maass was born in East Orange, New Jersey, to German immigrants Hedwig and Robert Maass. She was the eldest of 10 children in a devout Lutheran family. In 1895, she became one of the first graduates of Newark German Hospital’s Christina Trefz Training School for Nurses. By 1898, she had been promoted to head nurse at Newark German Hospital, where she was known for her hard work and dedication to her profession.

In April 1898, during the Spanish–American War, Maass volunteered as a contract nurse for the United States Army (the Army Nurse Corps did not yet exist). She served with the Seventh U. S. Army Corps from October 1, 1898, to February 5, 1899, in Jacksonville, Florida, Savannah, Georgia, and Santiago, Cuba. She was discharged in 1899, but volunteered again to serve with the Eighth U.S. Army Corps in the Philippines from November 1899 to mid-1900.

During her service with the military, she saw few battle injuries. Instead, most of her nursing duties involved providing medical care to soldiers suffering from infectious diseases, such as typhoid, malaria, dengue, and yellow fever. She contracted dengue in Manila, and was sent home.

Shortly after finishing her second assignment with the army, Maass returned to Cuba in October 1900 after being summoned by William Gorgas, who was working with the U.S. Army’s Yellow Fever Commission. The commission, headed by Major Walter Reed, was established during the post-war occupation of Cuba in order to investigate yellow fever, which was causing major problems in Cuba at the time. One of the commission’s goals was to determine how the disease was spread. At the time it was not known whether it was spread by mosquito bites or by contact with contaminated objects, but Reed theorized that mosquitoes were the culprits and wanted to test his belief.

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The commission recruited human subjects because they did not know of any animals that could contract yellow fever (primates are the only vector). In the first recorded instance of informed consent in human experiments, volunteers were told that participation in the studies might cause their deaths. As an incentive, volunteers were paid US$100 (approximately $3,000 today), with an additional $100 if the volunteer became ill.

In March 1901, Maass volunteered to be bitten by a Culex fasciata mosquito (now called Aedes aegypti) that had been allowed to feed on yellow fever patients. She contracted a mild case of the disease from which she quickly recovered. By this time, the researchers were reasonably certain that mosquitoes were the route of transmission, but lacked convincing scientific evidence to prove it, because some volunteers who were bitten remained healthy. Maass continued to volunteer for experiments.

On August 14, 1901, Maass allowed herself to be bitten by infected mosquitoes for the second time. Researchers were hoping to show that her earlier case of yellow fever was sufficient to immunize her against the disease. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Maass once again became ill with yellow fever on August 18, and died on August 24 (aged 25). Her death roused public sentiment and put an end to yellow fever experiments on human subjects. Maass was buried in Colon Cemetery in Havana with military honors. Her body was moved to Fairmount Cemetery, Newark, New Jersey, on February 20, 1902.

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In 1951, the 50th anniversary of her death, Cuba issued a postage stamp in her honor.

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On June 19, 1952, Newark German Hospital (which had since moved to Belleville, New Jersey) was renamed Clara Maass Memorial Hospital, and it is now known as Clara Maass Medical Center.

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In 1976, the 100th anniversary of her birth, Maass was honored with a 13¢ United States commemorative stamp.

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Also in 1976, the American Nurses Association inducted her into its Nursing Hall of Fame.

I’ve chosen the Cuban sandwich as a recipe to honor Clara Maass because it has associations with both late 19th century Florida and Cuba where she worked. As with Cuban bread [below], the origin of the Cuban sandwich (sometimes called a “Cuban mix,” a “mixto,” a “Cuban pressed sandwich,” or a “Cubano” is murky. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, travel between Cuba and Florida was easy, especially from Key West and Tampa, and Cubans frequently sailed back and forth for employment, pleasure, and family visits. Because of this constant and largely undocumented movement of people, culture and ideas, it is impossible to say exactly when or where the Cuban sandwich originated. (As a small aside, I will note that at this time no one especially cared that the Cubans in Florida were undocumented.)

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It is believed by some that the sandwich was a common lunch food for workers in both the cigar factories and sugar mills of Cuba (especially in big cities such as Havana or Santiago de Cuba) and the cigar factories of Key West by the 1860s. Historian Loy Glenn Westfall suggests that the sandwich was “born in Cuba and educated in Key West.” The cigar industry in Florida shifted to Tampa in the 1880s and the sandwich quickly appeared in workers’ cafés in Ybor City and (later) West Tampa. In the 1960s the sandwich became popular in other cities in Florida because of the torrent of immigrants escaping Castro.

While there is some debate as to the contents of a “true” Cuban sandwich, most are generally agreed upon. The traditional Cuban sandwich starts with Cuban bread. The loaf is sliced into lengths of 8–12 inches (20–30 cm), lightly buttered or brushed with olive oil on the crust, and cut in half horizontally. A coat of yellow mustard is spread on the bread. Then sliced roast pork, glazed ham, Swiss cheese, and thinly sliced dill pickles are added in layers. Sometimes the pork is marinated in mojo and slow roasted.

The main regional disagreement about the sandwich’s recipe is whether or not to include salami. In Tampa, Genoa salami is traditionally layered in with the other meats, probably due to influence of Italian immigrants who lived side-by-side with Cubans and Spaniards in Ybor City. In South Florida, salami is left out. Mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato are usually available options on Florida menus but are frowned upon by traditionalists.

Getting Cuban bread will be your main problem. The origins of “real” Cuban bread are as hotly debated as the “real” Cuban sandwich. The earliest U.S. bakery to produce Cuban bread was most likely La Joven Francesca bakery, which was established by the Sicilian-born Francisco Ferlita in 1896 in Ybor City, which was a thriving Cuban-Spanish-Italian community in Tampa at the time. The bakery originally sold bread for 3 to 5 cents per loaf, delivered every morning like milk. Houses in Ybor City often had a sturdy nail driven into the door frame on the front porch, and a bread deliveryman would impale the fresh loaf of bread on to the nail before dawn.

Ferlita’s bakery was destroyed by fire in 1922, leaving only the brick bread oven standing. He rebuilt it even larger than before and added a second oven, and it soon became a major supplier of Cuban bread for the Tampa/Ybor area. The bakery also added a dining area which became a place to congregate, drink a cup of Cuban coffee, and catch up on the local news. La Joven Francesca closed in 1973, but soon found new life when it was renovated and converted into the Ybor City State Museum, becoming the main part of the museum complex. The original ovens where the original Cuban bread was baked can still be seen.

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The Tampa Daily Journal, 1896, reported:

It is not amiss to say that the Latins in Ybor City make a very fine bread, equal in all respects to the French article of that kind and unexcelled by the Vienna product.

A traditional loaf of Cuban bread is approximately three feet long and somewhat rectangular crossways (as compared to the rounder shape of Italian or French bread loaves). It has a hard, thin, almost papery toasted crust and a soft flaky center. In the early days, the dough was stretched thin to make it last, creating the bread’s distinctive air pockets and long shape. As they have for decades, traditional Cuban bread makers lay a long, moist palmetto frond on top of the loaves before baking, creating a shallow trench in the upper crust, producing an effect similar to the slashing of a European-style loaf. (The frond is removed before eating.)

Oct 152015
 

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On this date in 1951 I Love Lucy, starring Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley, aired on CBS in the U.S. for the first time. The black-and-white series originally ran from October 15, 1951, to May 6, 1957. After the series ended in 1957, however, a modified version continued for three more seasons with 13 one-hour specials, running from 1957 to 1960, known first as The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show and later in reruns as The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour. The show, which was the first scripted television program to be shot on 35 mm film in front of a studio audience, won five Emmy Awards and received numerous nominations. It also won a Peabody Award for “recognition of distinguished achievement in television.”

I Love Lucy was the most watched show in the United States in four of its six seasons, and was the first to end its run at the top of the Nielsen ratings (an accomplishment later matched only by The Andy Griffith Show in 1968 and Seinfeld in 1998) . The show is still syndicated in dozens of languages across the world, and remains popular, with a U.S. audience of 40 million each year. A colorized version of its Christmas episode attracted more than eight million viewers when CBS aired it in prime time in 2013 – 62 years after the show premiered. A second colorized special, featuring the “L.A. At Last!” and “Lucy and Superman” episodes, aired on May 17, 2015, attracting 6.4 million viewers. I Love Lucy is often regarded as one of the greatest and most influential sitcoms in history. In 2012, it was voted the ‘Best TV Show of All Time’ in a survey conducted by ABC News and People Magazine.

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I am not old enough to have seen the show when it originally aired and, besides, there was no television in South Australia in the early 1950s. But I did see the earliest shows starting around 1960 when they were shown in Australia. They were a favorite in my house for several years when Australian-made television shows were cheaply produced and of rather poor quality. The great bulk of nightly viewing, which ran from about 4:30 pm to 11 pm (longer on Saturdays and Sundays), came from the U.S. and the U.K. – mostly the U.S. So I feel as if I was part of the early days of I Love Lucy. In runs of the shows in the early 1960s they still felt current even though they were 10 years old. Nowadays, of course, they are more like period pieces. I loved the show as a boy, but it lost its luster for me decades ago. I’m not a fan of sight gags, nor much for situation comedies as such. Maybe I’m just too much of a realist to accept ludicrous premises.

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Television executives had been pursuing Ball to adapt her very popular radio series My Favorite Husband for television. Ball insisted on Arnaz playing her on-air spouse so the two would be able to spend more time together. The original premise was for the couple to portray Lucy and Larry Lopez, a successful show business couple whose glamorous careers interfered with their efforts to maintain a normal marriage. Market research indicated, however, that this scenario would not be popular, so Jess Oppenheimer changed it to make Ricky Ricardo a struggling young orchestra leader and Lucy an ordinary housewife who had show business fantasies but no talent. The character name “Larry Lopez” was dropped because there was at the time a real-life bandleader named Vincent Lopez, and was replaced with “Ricky Ricardo”. Ricky would often appear at, and later own, the Tropicana Club which, under his ownership, he renamed Club Babalu.

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Initially, the idea of having Ball and the distinctly Latino Arnaz portray a married couple encountered resistance as they were told that Desi’s Cuban accent and Latin style would not be agreeable to American viewers. The couple overcame these objections, however, by touring together, during the summer of 1950, in a live vaudeville act they developed with the help of Spanish clown Pepito Pérez, together with Ball’s radio show writers. Much of the material from their vaudeville act, including Lucy’s memorable seal routine, was used in the pilot episode of I Love Lucy. Segments of the pilot were recreated in the sixth episode of the show’s first season. Desilu Productions

Ball and Arnaz founded Desilu Productions. At that time, most television programs were broadcast live, and as the largest markets were in New York, the rest of the country received only kinescope images. Karl Freund, Arnaz’s cameraman, and even Arnaz himself have been credited with the development of the multiple-camera setup production style using adjacent sets in front of a live audience that became the standard for subsequent situation comedies. The use of film enabled every station around the country to broadcast high-quality images of the show. Arnaz was told that it would be impossible to allow an audience on to a sound stage, but he worked with Freund to design a set that would accommodate an audience, allow filming, and also adhere to fire and safety codes.

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Network executives considered the use of film an unnecessary extravagance. Ball and Arnaz convinced them to allow Desilu to cover all additional costs associated with filming, under the stipulation that Desilu owned and controlled all rights to the film, a decision CBS later regretted because of the show’s endless profit in syndication. The couple also pushed the network to allow them to show Ball while she was pregnant. According to Arnaz, the CBS network told him that it would be wrong to show a pregnant woman on television or even use the word “pregnant.” Arnaz consulted a priest, a rabbi, and a Protestant minister, all of whom told him that there would be nothing wrong with showing a pregnant Lucy or with using the word “pregnant.” The network finally relented and let Arnaz and Ball weave the pregnancy into the story line, but remained adamant about avoiding use of “pregnant,” so Arnaz substituted “expecting,” pronouncing it ‘spectin’ in his Cuban accent. Oddly, the official titles of two of the series’ episodes employed the word “pregnant”: “Lucy Is Enceinte”, employing the French word for “pregnant,” and “Pregnant Women Are Unpredictable”, although the episode titles never appeared on the show itself.

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Arnaz and Ball decided that the show would maintain what Arnaz termed “basic good taste” and were therefore determined to avoid ethnic jokes as well as humor based on physical handicaps or mental disabilities. Arnaz recalled that the only exception consisted of making fun of Ricky Ricardo’s accent; even these jokes worked only when Lucy, as his wife, did the mimicking. Over the show’s nine-year run, the fortunes of the Ricardos mirror that of the archetypal 1950s American Dream. At first, they lived in a tiny, if pleasant, brownstone apartment. Later, Ricardo got his big chance and the couple moved, temporarily, to a fashionable hotel suite in Hollywood. Shortly after returning to New York, they had the opportunity to travel to Europe. Finally, they moved into a house in Westport, Connecticut.

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The original Desilu company continued long after Arnaz’s divorce from Ball and her remarriage to Gary Morton. Desilu produced its own programs and provided facilities to other producers. Desilu produced The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Lucy Show, Mission: Impossible, and Star Trek.

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There is an “I Love Lucy” Cookbook which I have not seen. I gather that many, if not most, of the recipes are Cuban. This one for a Cuban version of arroz con pollo is taken from http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/arroz-con-pollo-108483 I have no idea of the provenance of the recipe itself, but it looks all right. Quite different from the Argentine dish — http://www.bookofdaystales.com/che-guevara/

I Love Lucy Arroz con Pollo

Ingredients

For chicken

3 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 (3 1/2- to 4-lb) chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

For rice

1 lb onions, chopped (2 1/2 cups)

2 green bell peppers, chopped

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads

1/4 cup dry white wine

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons salt

1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf

1 (14- to 15-oz) can diced tomatoes, including juice

1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (12 fl oz)

1 1/2 cups water

2 cups long-grain white rice (3/4 lb)

1 cup frozen baby peas (not thawed; 5 oz)

1/2 cup small or medium pimiento-stuffed green olives (2 oz), rinsed

1/4 cup drained chopped bottled pimientos (2 oz), rinsed

Special equipment: a wide 6- to 7-qt heavy pot (about 12 inches in diameter and 4 inches deep)

Preparation

Prepare chicken:

Purée garlic, orange juice, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a blender until smooth. Put chicken pieces in a large bowl and pour purée over them, turning to coat. Marinate chicken, covered and chilled, turning occasionally, 1 hour.

Transfer chicken, letting excess marinade drip back into bowl, to paper towels, then pat dry. Reserve marinade.

Heat oil and butter in 6- to 7-quart pot over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then brown chicken in 2 or 3 batches, without crowding, turning occasionally, about 6 minutes per batch. Transfer chicken as browned to a plate, reserving fat in pot.

Prepare rice and bake arroz con pollo:

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat to 350°F.

Sauté onions, bell peppers, and garlic in fat in pot over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally and scraping up brown bits from chicken, until vegetables are softened, 6 to 8 minutes.

While vegetables cook, heat saffron in a dry small skillet over low heat, shaking skillet, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add wine and bring to a simmer, then remove from heat.

Add cumin and salt to vegetables and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in saffron mixture, bay leaf, tomatoes (including juice), broth, water, and reserved marinade and bring to a boil.

Add all chicken except breast pieces, skin sides up, and gently simmer, covered, over low heat 10 minutes. Stir in rice, then add breast pieces, skin sides up, and arrange chicken in 1 layer. Return to a simmer.

Cover pot tightly, then transfer to oven and bake until rice is tender and most of liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

Scatter peas, olives, and pimientos over rice and chicken (do not stir) and let stand, pot covered with a kitchen towel, until peas are heated through and any remaining liquid is absorbed by rice, about 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf.

Jun 142015
 

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Today is the birthday (1928) of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, commonly known as el Che or simply Che, an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, guerrilla leader, diplomat, and military theorist. He was a major figure of the Cuban Revolution, and his stylized image has become a ubiquitous countercultural symbol of rebellion and global insignia in popular culture. This poster could be found in practically every student room when I was an undergraduate.

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As a young medical student, Guevara traveled throughout South America and was radicalized by the poverty, hunger, and disease he witnessed. His burgeoning desire to help overturn what he saw as the capitalist exploitation of Latin America by the United States prompted his involvement in Guatemala’s social reforms under President Jacobo Árbenz, whose eventual CIA-assisted overthrow at the behest of the United Fruit Company solidified Guevara’s political ideology. Later, in Mexico City, he met Raúl and Fidel Castro, joined their 26th of July Movement, and sailed to Cuba aboard the yacht, Granma, with the intention of overthrowing U.S.-backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Guevara soon rose to prominence among the insurgents, was promoted to second-in-command, and played a pivotal role in the victorious two-year guerrilla campaign that deposed the Batista regime.

Following the Cuban Revolution, Guevara performed a number of key roles in the new government. These included reviewing the appeals and firing squads for those convicted as war criminals during the revolutionary tribunals, instituting agrarian land reform as minister of industries, helping spearhead a successful nationwide literacy campaign, serving as both national bank president and instructional director for Cuba’s armed forces, and traversing the globe as a diplomat on behalf of Cuban socialism. Such positions also allowed him to play a central role in training the militia forces who repelled the Bay of Pigs Invasion and bringing the Soviet nuclear-armed ballistic missiles to Cuba which precipitated the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Additionally, he was a prolific writer and diarist, composing a seminal manual on guerrilla warfare, along with a best-selling memoir about his youthful continental motorcycle journey. His experiences and studying of Marxism–Leninism led him to posit that the Third World’s underdevelopment and dependence was an intrinsic result of imperialism, neocolonialism, and monopoly capitalism, with the only remedy being proletarian internationalism and world revolution. Guevara left Cuba in 1965 to foment revolution abroad, first unsuccessfully in Congo-Kinshasa and later in Bolivia, where he was captured by CIA-assisted Bolivian forces and summarily executed.

Guevara remains both a revered and reviled historical figure, polarized in the collective imagination in a multitude of biographies, memoirs, essays, documentaries, songs, and films. As a result of his perceived martyrdom, poetic invocations for class struggle, and desire to create the consciousness of a “new man” driven by moral rather than material incentives, he has evolved into a quintessential icon of various leftist-inspired movements. Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century, while an Alberto Korda photograph of him, titled Guerrillero Heroico (title image), was cited by the Maryland Institute College of Art as “the most famous photograph in the world”.

The nickname “Che” was given to Guevara when he was traveling in South America. It is Buenos Aires street slang (Lunfardo) for “hi” and is very common among friends – usually followed by a humorous nickname: “che boluto” or “che gordo.” It is not common outside of Buenos Aires, so when Guevara used it, it was distinctive.

Rather than dredge up the whole biography of Guevara, which you can read for yourselves, here’s a gallery and a series of poignant quotes.

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I knew that the moment the great governing spirit strikes the blow to divide all humanity into just two opposing factions, I would be on the side of the common people.

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If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, then you are a comrade of mine.

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Real revolutionaries adorn themselves on the inside, not on the surface.

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We cannot be sure of having something to live for unless we are willing to die for it.

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I am not a liberator. Liberators do not exist. It exists when people liberate themselves.

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The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.

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One has to grow hard but without ever losing tenderness.

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 Along the way, I had the opportunity to pass through the dominions of the United Fruit, convincing me once again of just how terrible these capitalist octopuses are. . .I won’t rest until I see these capitalist octopuses annihilated.

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I am not Christ or a philanthropist, old lady [his mother], I am all the contrary of a Christ…. I fight for the things I believe in, with all the weapons at my disposal and try to leave the other man dead so that I don’t get nailed to a cross or any other place.

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I pondered what would be a suitable recipe to represent Che, Argentina and Cuba, and decided upon arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) which is universal in Latin America. I am going to give the recipe in Spanish; it should not be hard to figure out. If you are truly Spanish challenged use Google translate. In most Latin countries the rice is colored yellow with saffron or annatto but in Buenos Aires it is usually white. Be sure to pronounce “pollo” as Che would have: the “ll” is /zh/ like the “s” in “casual” and the “z” in “arroz” is /s/ not /z/.

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Arroz con Pollo

Ingredientes

1 pollo
2 tazas arroz
4 tazas caldo de ave
1 cebolla
½ ají morrón verde
½ ajì morrón rojo
100 g arvejas (si son frescas mucho mejor)
perejil a gusto
aceite de oliva, cantidad necesaria

Preparación

Cortar el pollo en ocho partes, (separar las patas de los muslos y dividir cada pechuga en dos)

Dorar las presas de pollo de ambos lados, en una sartén con aceite, hacerlo de a poco para que no se baje la temperatura.

Pelar y picar la cebolla.

Quitar las nervaduras y semillas de los ajíes y picar.

Rehogar en una olla el ají picado y la cebolla hasta que esta última transparente.

Incorporar el arroz, revolviendo hasta que transparente un poco (sin dorarse).

Agregar el pollo y el caldo.

Si las arvejas son frescas incorporarlas en este momento, de lo contrario hacerlo unos 5 minutos antes de retirar del fuego.

Dejar cocer el arroz con pollo durante 20 minutos a fuego moderado y cacerola destapada, revolviendo de vez en cuando.

Tapar la olla, retirar del fuego y dejar descansar durante 5 minutos.

Servir el arroz con pollo espolvoreado con perejil picado.