For years, Cuba has remained a mysterious marvel to many Americans. Now that it has become more reasonable to travel there, it’s time to discover all of the amazing wonders that this island country has to offer. Of course, when exploring a new country, one of the best ways to get to know the culture intimately is through trying the local cuisine. Cuban cuisine combines the best of Spanish and Caribbean cuisines, incorporating Spanish techniques with Caribbean spices and flavors. Not sure what to try when you’re in Cuba? Here are some absolute must tries that you’ll certainly enjoy.
Ropa vieja is part of the typical Cuban meal that is comprised of stewed beef, tomatoes and a sofrito base. This originates from Spain and has traveled around the world to Latin America and the Philippines. Interestingly, the dish likely first originated with Sephardic Jews who were living in the Iberian peninsula, as slow cooked meat is often prepared to eat over Shabbat, when cooking is not allowed. It later spread to the Canary Island in Spain, and later was brought to Cuba in about 1857. Now, it has become the Cuban national dish.
Cuban bread is a loaf of simple white bread that has a unique baking method and ingredient list. It’s typically made with a small quantity of fat (usually lard or vegetable shortening) and is baked in the shape of a baguette. It is often used as the bread in Cuban sandwiches, which is a Cuban version of a ham and cheese sandwich that’s made with ham, mojo roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and also sometimes salami.
Moros y Cristianos
Moros y Cristianos is a typical Cuban dish that can also be found throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Southern United States. It is the Cuban version of rice and beans and is made with black beans (moros) and white rice (Cristianos). The name of the dish makes reference to the African Muslim rule of the Iberian Peninsula, which took place in the early 8th century until the Reconquista in the 15th century.
Guava is a commonly found fruit in Cuba, so it is no surprise than many dishes will usually include the fruit as a flavor. This includes these guava basted ribs, which usually are made with guava jelly that adds a delicious sweetness to the barbecue sauce while keeping the meat tender. Usually the meat is marinated in the sauce for hours so that the flavor has time to truly impart. It is absolutely delicious!
Tostones are twice-fried green plantains that are satisfying crunchy, salty, and savory all at once. These are popular in Cuba as well as throughout the Caribbean and are an amazing choice fora snack. You can even make them yourself if you’re feeling bold.