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The main features of Cuban cuisine

If you want to get a quick idea of Cuban cuisine, you can imagine fusion of African, Spanish, Native American Taino and Caribbean cuisines. The Cuban cuisine resembles the cuisine of Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic due to their close geographical location. There is also slight influence of Chinese cuisine in the Havana area. In terms of flavor and spices, the cuisine features distinct Caribbean influence. Cuba used to be an important trade port in the past therefore it was under Spanish influence. When Spaniards arrived to live on the island they followed their culinary traditions, which eventually merged with local ones.

Spain had the strongest influence on Cuban cuisine. It happened as a result of Spanish colonization on Cuba. African influence comes from slaves that were brought to the island and French influence originates from French colonists arriving there from Haiti.

myasoThe role of Miami culture in the formation of Cuban cuisine is also interesting. Miami culture is dominated by Latino community now as it was always a haven for refugees who fled away from Fidel Castro’s regime. The Cubans have preserved their language, culture and norms and now they influence the cultural sphere of Miami. Besides, this exile community of the Cubans also affects modern Cuban cuisine now. These people are mainly are under the influence of Nouvelle cuisine and Modern American tastes.

Cuban cooking is a peasant cuisine and you will not find too complicated recipes in it. The Cubans also do not care much about measurements. The meals are mainly sautéed and cooked on low flame.

sofritoA typical Cuban dish is rice and beans, cooked in different ways. Rice and beans can be either combined or prepared apart. Black beans and rice is a popular dish in Cuban cuisine. Rice and red beans can be prepared in sofrito, which is a kind of sauce of onion, garlic and tomatoes, paprika, green bell peppers cooked on olive oil. Sofrito is used as a base for many dishes and is liked not only in Cuba but throughout the Caribbean region, also in Brazilian and Catalan cuisine though different versions of dish are cooked in different regions. Sofrito is not actually a dish but something that gives flavor to it. Sofrito is used for cooking stews, beans, meat and sauces based on tomatoes.

3(159)Cuban tamale differs from Mexican dish. The corn based masa is stuffed with meat, which is prepared in sofrito.As for meat dishes, Cubans eat beef, mutton, chicken or pork that are served with potatoes, yucca and malanga, either boiled or fried. Mojo sauce is added to garnish. Heavy sauces are avoided in Cuban cuisine. Meat and poultry can be marinated in citrus juice, and after it is roasted.  Some travelers look for exotic experience and come to Cuba to try crocodile. There are special crocodile farms in Cuba that grow these animals for food.

The Cubans like to eat stews and soups. Such dishes as corn stew, caldosa (stew with vegetables and all sorts of meat), guiso (corn soup) and others are very popular. Ajiaco is a national dish liked by the Cubans and all people who come to the country. It includes pork or beef, bananas, corn, lemon, sauce, pumpkin and other vegetables. This soup was made of fish in the past but Spaniards started adding pork and African slaves – vegetables.

The Cubans are proud of their Cuban rum – Havana Club that was called the best in the world. Famous Cuban cocktails are Cuba Libre, Mojito, Mulata and famous Daiquiri liked by Hemingway.

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This article was written on 15 Dec 2014.

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