We have all heard of Mexican, Italian and Greek cuisine, but what exactly is Cuban cuisine? Where do their influences come from and what are the main foods you can expect to try?
The cuisine of Cuba is a blend of different cuisines from around the world. The Native American Taino food is combined with flavours from African, Caribbean and Spanish cuisine – in fact any country that has transported migrants to Cuba!
The cuisine is very similar to the neighbouring islands of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. There is also an influence of Chinese cooking in Cuba, especially around Havana which has its very own Chinatown.
Cuba was always an important trade port. The Spanish who arrived here brought their gastronomic skills and cooking traditions with them. The same can be said for the Africans and the French-speaking population of nearby Haiti.
However, Cuba has always been self-reliant too. With a tropical climate; forests and rainforests; and an abundance of fish in the Caribbean Sea, the diet often consisted of seafood, root vegetables and various fruits.
A typical meal you can recreate in your villa in the Caribbean is rice and beans. These can be cooked together, a dish also known as Moros y Cristianos (black beans and rice). Variations of these dishes are found across the island. Another staple in the Cuban diet is meat. This is served with sauces, the most popular being the Mojo sauce which consists of garlic, onion, spices, oil and lime juice. This sauce derives from the Canary Islands and was brought over with the Spanish migrants. The most popular dish of Cuba, ropa vieja (shredded meat) in tomato criollo sauce, also originates from the Canaries but has since been adopted as the Cuban national dish.
The idea of the Cuban Sandwich was brought over from Key West and Tampa, Florida. It consists of a panini style bread, slices of pork, serrano ham, Swiss-style cheese, pickles and yellow mustard.
There are many delicious dishes to try when you are out and about in Cuba, or if you feel daring you can recreate them in your apartment in Havana. The roots of these dishes may be Spanish, African or Floridian but when you eat them in Cuba, you will remember them as 100% Cuban.
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