Food in Cuba is so much more than a simple Cuban sandwich and an ice cold mojito. The cuisine is a delicious blend of Native American Taino food, Spanish, African, and Caribbean pallets because of colonization and trade routes throughout history. Spanish
colonists brought with them citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons, as well as rice and vegetables. They also grew sugar cane, a major Cuban crop. Traditional Cuban dishes generally lack seasonings and sauces. Black beans, stews, and meats are the most popular foods. Another important factor is that Cuba is an island, making lobster a great influence to the Cuban menu. The tropical climate of the island produces fruits and root
vegetables that are used in many Cuban dishes. Root vegetables are most often flavored with mojo , a combination of olive oil, lemon juice, onions, garlic, and cumin.
Malangas for example, are similar to yams in appearance and potatoes in flavor. By grating this root veggie, it comes together easily into a batter that fries up crispy and delicious. A savory Tamarindo Ketchup is the perfect dipping sauce to this classic roadside Cuban snack.
This classic side, maduros, is made with overripe plantains and scalding hot. They are sweet and tender which perfectly offsets the savory dishes of classic Cuban cuisine. Another common side found on almost every Cuban plate is moros y cristianos, or black beans stewed with white rice.
For a hardier meal, skirt steak is marinated in oregano, parsley, cilantro, garlic, cinnamon, and red vinegar, then braised until fall-apart tender. This dish called Vaca Frita is served along side lime-infused onions and peppers for a bright pop of flavor.
My favorite part of the meal is the dessert. Common sweet endings to a Cuban meal include flan (a baked custard), chu (bite-sized puff pastries filled with meringue), churrizo (deep-fried doughnut rings), and galletas (sweet biscuits).
With all this food we are bound to get thirsty! Cuba is known for thier rum which you can find in a Cuba Libre, a Cuban version of a rum and coke. Of course Daquiris and Mojitos are popularas well, but what about a morning pick-me-up? Cuban espresso, or Café Cubano, is known to be dark and bold. Drinking Cuban espresso after dinner with the company of friends remains a social activity to this day.
Something I find interesting is because of the trade restrictions in Cuba, there is actually a shortage of many different food items including produce. Cuba often sells their produce, like cassava, for money, which in turn leaves a shortage of cassava for the Cuban people. In result many food items, like meats, are rationed. Therefore, locals often go to restaurants to find that many items on the menu are not available or have run out. When it comes to food in Cuba, better get it while you can.
Which Cuban dishes have you tried? Tell me about your favorite meals!