Cuban food is a combination of Spanish, African and Caribbean cuisines. Cuban cuisine uses a lot of seafood since Cuba is an island itself with a lot of sea life around. Cuba has a tropical climate which helps in the production of an array of fruits and root vegetables used in various food preparations. The Cuban food consists of a main course mainly pork or beef, some type of salad consisting of tomato, lettuce, avocado, cucumber, carrots and cabbage. A normal Cuban meal consists of vegetables and rice that are cooked together or separately.
Classification of Cuban Food
Cuban Food can be broadly classified into two categories:
- Western Cuban Cuisine – The western Cuban style of cooking is somewhat similar to continental cuisine (European). The reason can be attributed to Spanish invasion. Unlike the rest of the Cuban cuisine, flour is heavily used in Western Cuban recipes. The people here enjoy sweet and sour food. Olives, raisins and capers are mainly used for cooking.
- Eastern Cuban Cuisine - Eastern Cuba is highly influenced by African and Caribbean cuisines mainly Eastern Cuba is highly influenced by African and Caribbean cuisines owing to the presence of Spanish influenced cuisines in its neighborhood where the consumption of red beans in preference to black beans seems to be a popular.
Historical and Cultural Influences on Cuban Food
The Cuban cuisine gets it flavor from the spices and herbs of Caribbean culture. It is one of its kinds with a remarkable combination of food from different ethnic backgrounds. In the Havana area of Cuba, flavors of Oriental (Chinese) cuisine can be found in the food. Cuba was mainly colonized by Spain hence one of the main influences on the cuisine is from Spain. African slaves were bought and brought to Cuba for porting. Therefore other culinary influences include Africa also. French people invaded Cuba from Haiti region, so some of the Cuban cuisines have French touch too.
Commonly Used Ingredients and Cooking Methods in Preparing Cuban Food
Cuban cuisine utilizes an array of spices such as garlic, cumin, oregano and bay or laurel leaves. For preparing meats and other wide range of dishes including beans a spice called Sofrito is used. Special vegetables in Cuba include vegetables like Yuca, malanga, boniato, and plantano. They are normally simmered together with various vegetables that are drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with chopped fresh onion.
Sandwiches are eaten a lot in Cuba. They are prepared by simply pressing sandwiches with traditional filling of roasted pork or Serrano ham seasoned with dill pickles or yellow mustard.
Globally Popular Cuban Foods:
Some of the popular Cuban food includes:
- Mojo or Mojito – this is a sweet, minty and tangy refreshing cocktail summer drink made of white rum, sugar, lime and mint( mostly spearmint ) and water.
- Tamales – These are similar to their Mexican counterparts, but containing less spicy fillings. The tamale masa( or dough used to make the covering) is made of corn husk.
- Caldo Gallego (Galician Stew)- this stew of Spanish roots is made with beans, meat like pork, ham, steak, Spanish chorizo, and vegetables like potato and turnip greens. Seasonings of garlic, onion, and celery added to the dish.
Traditional Cuban Food
- Sofrito – Also known as refogado( Portugese), ginisa(Filipino), and sofregit( Catalan) cuisines, this is a gravy tomato base seasoned with garlic and onions and use4d for preparing a lot of dishes in the Latin American cuisine. The mixture is prepared by sautéing or braising the ingredients in olive oil gradually from fifteen minutes to half an hour. The ingredients and medium of cooking may differ according to the preferences of the cuisine in which they are prepared.
- Picadillo (Cuban Beef Hash)- This is a savory ground meat dish, preferably made using beef, and tomatoes. It is served as filling accompaniment to rice dishes. It is also used as a stuffing for tacos, some pastries and croquettes. The Filipino version of this dish is known as giniling.
- Platillo Moros y Cristianos (Black Beans and Rice) – Also known as arroz moro,congri, moros , or moro , this dish is is prepared by boiling black beans and then rice in the liquid in which beans were cooked. Garlic, oregano, onion, bay leaf and bell pepper are added as seasonings to this dish. The dish may also contain rice and beans cooked separately and served alongside each other. The latter is a non-traditional version of the dish.
Special/ Festival Cuban Food:
Yuca con mojo is a popular Cuban dish served during holidays, especially Christmas. The yucca is cooked and is served with a garlic-flavored orange sauce. Malta with condensed milk is a typical Cuban beverage.
Gourmet Cuban Food
- Cuban Arroz con Pollo – This spiced and herbed rice and chicken dish is one of the most fondly eaten dishes of the country. Originally a Spanish dish, the Cuban arroz con pollo is differs from its counterparts prepared in other cuisines with the usage of specific ingredients. The Cuban version of this dish is characterized by its spiciness, and inclusion of tomato and garlic.
- Frita –A Cuban hamburger made of ground beef patties seasoned with paprika and onions used as a filling in between a Cuban bun and savored with some Mojo sauce and fries.
- Lechon Asado – This is a dish made for special occasions by roasting a suckling pig.
- Pierna de Puerco Asada –This is a roasted pork leg dish prepared in the Creole style with spiced and herbed wine seasonings.