Cuban food reflects the traditions of the indigenous, Spanish and African people who have lived on the island over the centuries. Spanish colonists brought citrus fruits and vegetables, and they grew sugar cane. They brought Africans as slaves to the country, and while they could not bring anything with them, they brought their unique cultures, and as a result, these traditions combined to create the basis of Cuban cuisine was created. Cuban food centers heavily on meat, tropical produce like plantains and guavas.
1. Ropa Vieja
This is the national dish of Cuba. It is made of shredded flank steak in a tomato sauce, black beans, yellow rice, plantains and fried yucca. It is often served over white rice. The name means “old clothes,” and was given to the dish because of its appearance
Picadillo is a type of hash made of ground pork or beef and sometimes both, potatoes, olives, and string beans, all cooked together in a large pot. The recipe varies according to the cook, but many choose to add raisins.
This is a pork shoulder that has been marinated overnight in a citrusy concoction of orange and lime juices and spices. The meat is then roasted slowly for hours to ensure tenderness. This dish s usually served at Christmas or on other important occasions.
Served with rice, these tangy, crispy chunks of fried pork flavored with garlic and other spices are tender inside and crunchy outside. It is the ultimate in traditional Cuban food.
Tostones are deep-fried “smashed” plantain that can be compared to potato chips. The plantains are flattened before cooking to ensure their crunchiness. They may also be pan-fried. This is usually served as an appetizer or side dish accompanied by a dish of garlic-lime sauce.