The unique Cuban cuisine that we enjoy today is a result of hundreds of years of fusion between various influences and cultures. Cuba’s rich and flavored cultural background has played a major role in its cuisine. With strong similarities to the cuisines of neighboring Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic, Cuban fare is mostly a fusion of Spanish and Caribbean cooking with an African influence.
Cuba’s Culinary History
Cuba was an important trading port during the colonial times. This meant that many Spaniards who lived on the island brought their culinary traditions with them. The Spanish colonization of Cuba cemented its influence as one of the major ones in Cuba’s cuisine. Africans that were brought to the island as slaves also played a role in the development of the island’s unique fare.
Being an island, Cuba’s cuisine is further influenced by the availability of seafood. Fruits and root vegetables are also prominent as is common in a region with a tropical climate where these easily grow.
Dishes From Cuba
The staple of Cuba, and sometimes referred to as peasants’ cuisine, is a meal consisting of beans and rice, either cooked together or apart. Red beans and rice is called ‘Congri’ and black beans and rice, ‘Moros’. A typical main course would chiefly comprise beef or pork, when available on “ration book” (a system of food distribution in Cuba), a sort of tuber such as malanga, potato, yucca or plantains, and a simple salad which could be made up of tomato, avocado, lettuce and sometimes carrots, radish, cabbage or cucumber.
Even though each region of Cuba has slight differences in the way they prepare their food, most of the dishes remain uniquely Cuban. Meat is served with light sauces such as the popular Mojo (made with oregano, lime, garlic, onion, spices and oil). One of these meat dishes is Ropa vieja. Shredded meat is simmered in a tomato-based sauce until it falls apart and is then served with black beans, rice, plantains and usually beer. Other prevalent dishes include Boliche, a chorizo sausage stuffed beef roast, and tamales.
Influenced by many countries and cultures across the world and through time, Cuba boasts a unique mosaic of flavorful and sumptuous dishes for the culinary adventurous.
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