One of my favourite memories from Cuba was hearing a fellow hotel guest ask if there was an Italian restaurant nearby. The hotel receptionist—perplexed and confused—simply replied “No, you’re in Cuba.”
Cuban food is one thing that seems to divide visitors; either you love the back to basics approach to cuisine, or you hate it for a lack of diversity at meal times. One thing is for sure, if you’re going to Cuba, get used to rice and beans, which is the quintessential staple of every Cuban meal. Although you’ll find it prepared differently depending on where you’re staying, and trust me, it will be delicious every time.
If you’re following us on Pinterest you’ll know that here at Vamos*Cuba, we loooove our Cuban food and drink (who can resist a well made and potent Mojito?!) So here’s a round up of the top foods you won’t be able to avoid in Cuba, starting with…
This will be on the menu everywhere you go. I haven’t yet figured out if it’s the Cuban bread, or the combination of ham AND roasted pork which makes this so much more than your average sandwich. This is a welcome meal any time of the day, and speaking from experience, the ideal hangover cure.
A roadside classic, if you’re travelling across Cuba you’ll find stalls selling this on the side of the road, or you’ll find it served
alongside your meal in restaurants. Depending on how it’s made, the plantain will either be crisp like, well, crisps. Or it will be cut into larger pieces, smashed, and then briefly fried. My favourite ever fried plantain was served in a banana leaf and lightly salted and then enjoyed on a beach with a refreshing beer!
I know, the name sounds horrible, but don’t let that put you off. This is a delicately seasoned dish made of stewed beef, and it goes particularly well with rice and beans. The secret to this is the Sofrito sauce, which is the base of many Spanish and Latin American dishes. This is well worth making at home; the key is letting it cook for as long as you can—the beef should melt in your mouth, and the flavours should be allowed to develop and meld together perfectly.
If you have a sweet tooth, this cake will be your new best friend. It’s made with three different types of milk: fresh, condensed, and evaporate. The final step to this cake is to soak it in the milk, which keeps it moist and perfect, even in the blistering Caribbean heat. It’s fairly easy to make at home, and is really impressive once you add the delicious meringue topping.
A favourite of hemming way, this is not to be confused with the iced slushie/ slurpee style drinks sometimes on offer. So how do you make a daiquiri that Hemmingway would be happy to knock back? According to HavanaClub.com
2 tablespoons of sugar
Juice of Half a Lime
Few drops of Maraschino Liqueur
1 cup of crushed ice
6cl of Havana Club Añejo 3 Años
Serve over ice, and… relax.
Did I miss any? What are some of your favourite Cuban foods?