Claire WildeThanks to the collaborative efforts of Barack Obama and Raúl Castro, America and Cuba have restored ties and opened up the communist Caribbean island nation to the world. The cruise industry is definitively on-board, with lines such as Carnival already launching socially conscious voyages that immerse passengers in Cuban culture. While there is a plethora of history to soak in, we’re also beyond excited to sample what local delights the Cubans whip up in the kitchen. With a base of Native American Taino influence, a splash of Spanish flair, a dash of African flavour and a sprinkling of Caribbean inspiration, Cuban cuisine is in a class of its own.
So what’s on the menu? Read on for our list of must try dishes should you be lucky enough to find yourself on Cuban shores!
Moros y Cristianos
Looking for something simple yet hearty? Moros y Cristianos, or black beans and rice is the go-to dish for countless Cuban families. Enjoy it as a side dish or as a simple yet filling meal.
Cuban black bean soup
Black beans are a Cuban staple and when blended with onions, garlic, pepper, cumin and oregano they make a tasty soup.
This pork dish is the shining star of Cuban cuisine! It calls for a whole pig which is then flavoured with garlic, oregano and sour orange. Once prepared the entire animal is covered with banana leaves and roasted in a pit barbecue.
Amazingly, sandwiches are renowned as one of Cuba’s specialties. Most ‘mixtos’ are prepared with traditional Cuban bread which is baked with lard instead of oil to give it a distinctively moist texture. Typical fillings include sliced roast pork, Serrano ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickles and yellow mustard. Don’t ask for lettuce or tomato as you’ll be frowned upon by the locals for being far too Americanised!
Crispy, crunchy and packed full of calories, these fried pork skin pieces are perfect for an afternoon snack.
Crispy plantain chips
Plantains are a Caribbean staple and the Cubans love to fry them up into bite sized chips. If you’re ever feeling peckish these guys are a great snack!
These rich, eggy cone shaped cakes get their name from the brown habits worn by Capuchin monks. Why? Because they’re encased in a brown sugar syrup hood. Delicious!
The Cuba Libre
Crafted with cola, lime and rum, this highball is simple yet delicious. Plus you’ll enjoying a liberating sense of freedom with every sip!
Light and refreshing, mojitos are traditionally blended with five ingredients – white rum, sugar cane juice, lime juice, sparkling water and spearmint. For an ultra-authentic version make sure you seek out a bar that uses yerba Buena, a local mint variety.
Need a quick caffeine fix? Cuba is the place to be. The locals love to drink their brews strong and sweet. Think a shot of dark roast coffee sprinkled with plenty of sugar for an extra kick!
Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credits: Didier Baertschiger, Carolyn McCaffrey Stalnaker, Brook Ward