Hello! I’m Cristina Maria Curp, Cuban-American, mother, wife, eater and dreamer. The chef and creator of the Castaway Kitchen, a blog where I share my recipes, health journey and adventures in Hawai’i (or wherever I am living). I have been able to heal my body and greatly improve my quality of life through diet. Paleo has helped me achieve a level of remission with my autoimmune diseases that I never thought possible. This is where my passion for paleo comes from.
Food, creating and cooking has always been a love of mine, but being able to heal through food changed my perspective on diet forever.I’m always quick to answer a question, reply to comments and emails. I like to be there for you all as the online paleo community was there for me during my healing process.
I was born in Miami to Cuban immigrants, my parent’s lives have been difficult, they suffered more than most before they were teenagers. It often seems as if their past, living in a communist country, being persecuted, fleeing in boats, starting from nothing, happened to other people. My parents are the most loving, hardworking and honest humans I have ever met. My childhood was that of dreams and fairy tales. So much love, amazing family adventures, and an abundance of good food. A lot of food.
A family of avid cooks and maternal figures that dote on their loved ones, usually by feeding them. Cooking is in my blood. My father owns a butcher shop and my mother a farm to table café. As school children, my sister and I were those kids that took giant thermos with picadillo and rice for lunch. Ana, my mother was and still is unwavering in her commitment to nourish her family, and everyone else. Famous for her delicious meals, our house was always brimming with guests relishing large vibrant salads and grilled meats. This is where my love of food was born, where I first learned to cook; an eat-in kitchen with a red ceramic sink and a table full of friends and family.
After graduating from college, and a few sordid years of exploring the Miami nightlife, I went to work for my mother. I know what you’re thinking, but it was actually really fun, most of the time. She’s a tough boss. That lady expects nothing but the best. At Green Gables Café, a successful restaurant in the heart of Coral Gables, I fine-tuned my natural ability to cook in to professional chef skills. My time there flew by, the restaurant industry moves so fast. I learned from a host of multi-cultural chefs and cooks that came through that kitchen. I washed dishes, bused tables, did deliveries. When it’s the family biz, you do what’s needed. Not glamorous, but a heck of a learning experience.
Then, one fine day, or should I say one night, a really late night, I met Justin. At a bar, dancing. Yup. Love was in the air, and a year later we were married and following his Navy career across the country. When we moved to San Diego I quickly found a job at Green Truck. Where I started as a prep cook, but eventually became the head chef of this farm to table food truck. Later I started a moving Pop- Up restaurant with other local chefs which was short lived because, baby made three! Blue Plate was a lot of fun, and some of the most creative cooking I ever did.
My culinary background and lifelong love of food shows through in my recipes, I cook like someone who derives great pleasure from eating. Real talk, I love to eat. Even as a child people would remark to my mother how I ate with such gusto! Back then I wanted to throat punch them, because I interpreted it as a quip on my weight, but now I get it. I do eat with gusto, I savor every morsel! The flavor profiles of my recipes are assorted and pleasing. Like my mother, I work magic with seasonings.
Life of course isn’t without its darkness. In my case it came in the form of Hidradenitis Suppurativa [HS]. HS is a chronic, incurable, extremely painful, skin disease. I have suffered from it since I was a young teenager. The pain and embarrassment often caused depression. I was constantly hiding parts of my body from the world. It wasn’t something I told people about. After seeing numerous dermatologists who didn’t offer much help, I just accepted a sub-par quality of life. I put on a happy face and made the best of it. Then I met my husband. My heart grew a little. I had my son and I thought my heart would explode. As well as my skin. The post-partum hormone roller coaster exasperated my condition.
Eventually, when I wasn’t a slave to my little bean, I began to do research. I began to omit things from my diet. Two years gluten free, a Whole30, committing to paleo and many books and blogs, and tears later, I did the autoimmune protocol. My HS began to calm down and my skin began to heal. Learning about leaky gut, learning that my disease was indeed an autoimmune disease, that it wasn’t my fault, was absolutely liberating. Learning that I could heal my body through my food choices gave me hope. Paleo saved me from myself. Paleo healed my gut, my skin and my soul. There’s a lot of self-loathing and frustration that comes along with autoimmune disease. Your body is attacking itself. Today I’m happy, thriving (most days), and I don’t hate my body anymore. A brilliant evolution.
What works for me? Paleo, no nightshades, easy on the nuts, seeds, sweets and wine. Plenty of sleep and exercise. Will that work for you? I have no idea; you have to find that out for yourself, and with the options in this blog, I hope you do! I really enjoy helping other people find their happy place, that balance between eating great and feeling great. It’s why I do this. Cook, photograph, write, share. Repeat.