Food and Recipes
a Land with Colorful and Delicious Natural Foods
Cuba is not only a beautiful island surrounded by blue waters and white
sand, but it is a haven for tropical delights. Plantains, mangos, guanabanas (called
soursop in other countries), mamoncillos, mameys, pineapples, coconuts, tamarinds, frutabomba (commonly known as papaya), Texas-sized avocados,
and many other of nature's decorations adorn the many variations of trees,
as well as serve as the basis of inspiration for many Cuban Dishes.
To learn about other tropical fruits, go to University of Florida,
Sarasota County Page.
The Spanish Influence
Not only is Cuba blessed with nature's candy, but Cuba's main dishes are
filled with flavors that perfectly combine in your taste buds. Some basic
Spanish ingredients typically found in Cuban cooking are: olive oil, green
olives, garlic, onions, green bell peppers, saffron, oregano, bay leaves,
and cilantro, to name a few.
Most main dishes start
out with a "Sofrito,"
consisting of onions, green bell peppers, and garlic sauteed in olive
oil. This is basically a heavilly-concentrated medley of flavors which
is added to season a large quantity of food, usually rice and meat dishes.
Typical Cuban main dishes are Arroz con Pollo (yellow-saffron rice with
chicken), Carne con Papas (meat and potatoes), and Arroz con Bistec y
Papas Fritas (white rice with beef steak & French fries).
The Cuban Sandwich and La Frita (Cuban hamburger) are very popular and
delectable dishes. The Cuban Sandwhich is prepared with gracious slices of pork and ham, melted swiss cheese,
pickles, and sandwiched in toasted Cuban bread. The Frita meat patty is
shaped like a traditional hamburger, eventhough both ground beef and pork
are used, so it has an additional sausage-like flavor. The Frita is served
in a hamburger bun with crunchy potato sticks, so it's definitely a fun
and original specialty to eat!
Croquetas are also a favorite Cuban specialty. They are usually made from
left-over dinner meat, whether it's ham, chicken, roasted pork, or whatever
meat you have available:
You can grind the meat in a food porcessor and make into a paste.
Shape the paste into 2-inch long bars with rounded ends and edges.
Then, batter your paste bars in egg, followed by covering the paste
with bread crumbs.
The croquetas are then fried to a golden crisp.
Some people enjoy eating just the croquettes, while others like to sandwhich
two or three croquettes in between two slices of their favorite bread.
The tortilla—a Cuban homelette—is also an all-time favorite. Whether they
are filled with ham and onions, potatoes, or sweet plaintains, they are
absolutely delicious. And, Tortillas are easy to eat, since the eggs are
not scrambled, they cook nice, flat, and leveled.
The only drawback to Cuban cooking: many Cuban-Americans can't resist
the delicious cuisine, and are accustommed to eating second servings.
(This explains why many of us are so nice and plump!)
With so many tropical fruits and sugar in Cuba, you can only imagine the
wonderful desserts offered. From Flan to Arroz con Leche to the simple, yet always wonderful Merenguitos (as enjoyed by Cuban Ibrahim Ferrer, in a scene from the Buena Vista Social
Club documentary). Raul Musibay has a great collection of Cuban recipes on the Web, including Cuban
Of course, Cuba is also known for its sweet rum, which is commonly used
in many Cuban alcoholic beverages.
During pre-Castro Cuba, rum was a flourishing industry. Among the most
famous is Bacardi Rum, whom "after
98 years in Cuba, the Cuban assets of Compañia Ron Bacardi, S.A.
were illegally confiscated by Cuba's totalitarian regime." Today
(in 2000), they are Bacardi Limited, with headquarters in Hamilton, Bermuda.
The most famous Cuban alcoholic drink (with a special meaning to the Cuban
exiles) is the Cuba Libre,
which is a combination of Coca-cola, rum and lime. So simple and tasty....and,
ahhh so so liberating! Interesting note, according to the Bacardi rum
experts, the first Cuba Libre was mixed by an American soldier in Cuba
A Taste of Cuba
Taste of Cuba.com
Cuban Food Market.com
El Meson Cuban-Mexican Restaurant