“But isn’t Cuban food the same as Mexican cuisine?”
When someone said that to me, I almost passed out.
SAY WHAT! No, not all Latin cooking equals tacos and burritos. No, not all Latin food is Mexican. And Cuban food is 10000% not the same as Mexican cuisine.
There are so many types of Latin cooking cuisines — Puertorican, Dominican, Peruvian, Colombian, Argentinean… I mean the list goes on and on.
I love all types of Latin food. They all bring a different flavor element that makes it unique to their culture. And that’s honestly my favorite part about it.
With all this in mind, however, I wanted to specifically share all about Cuban food (the epitome of comfort food!).
Unless you live in (or have lived in) South Florida or were born in Cuba or from a Cuban family (like me!), you don’t really KNOW about its amazingness and why it’s truly so delicious.
What is Cuban Food?
Cuban food is a rich, hearty melting pot of Spanish, African, and other Caribbean cuisines. A majority of recipes are slow-cooked, sautéed, and/or tomato-based with spices like cumin, oregano, and bay leaves.
A lot of the measurements are not even necessary. My mom, for example, cooks with “un poquito” (a little bit) and just tastes as she goes along.
Most Cuban dishes start with something called sofrito. Not to be confused sofritas in Mexican cuisine. Cuban sofrito is the basis of most Cuban dishes. Some call it the “Holy Trinity”.
It consists of garlic, onions, and green peppers with spices and olive oil. You sauté the sofrito in a skillet before continuing with the rest of your recipe and that’s what gives meals such a unique and distinctive flavor!
Meat and poultry are usually marinated in mojo marinade which is a citrus blend of sour orange and lime juice with spices.
Seafood is common but not as popular as pork. And vegetables well… there are some but they are primarily plantains (tostones + sweet plantains!) and root vegetables like yuca, malanga, and potatoes. You’ll never see broccoli in Cuban cuisine. Ha!
You’ll also see that white rice is the largest staple in Cuban cuisine. Some say it’s because of China’s influence from the early years before the Cuban revolution. White rice is usually cooked with black beans to make rice + beans or congri (moros y cristianos).
Another Chinese influence is la caja china (the Chinese box) which is a large box, sometimes made of wood, commonly used to make tender, slow-roasted pork during the holidays.
Common Questions about Cuban Cuisine
A typical Cuban dinner consists of rice and beans with a protein (meat, chicken, fish).
Black beans and rice is called moros when they are cooked together while white rice and black beans cooked separately is called arroz con frijoles.
A traditional Cuban breakfast consists of Cuban toast (toasted Cuban bread) dunked in café con leche (coffee with steamed milk). Sometimes ham croquettes and pastelitos (beef + guava) make an appearance.
The Cuban national drink is called the Cuba Libre and it is a rum and coke with a twist of lime. Cuba Libra translates to “Free Cuba” which was the slogan for Cuban independence movement.
Unlike Mexican cuisine, Cuban food is not spicy because it’s a mix of Spanish, African, and other Caribbean cuisines. Chilies are not even grown in Cuba which is why ‘heat’ has never really been a key ingredient in Cuban cuisine.
Cuban food is not bland though. All Cuban recipes are well seasoned and, as a result, they taste more savory than spicy Mexican food.
What is your favorite Cuban recipe? Tell me in the comments below! :)
Click here to see 12 Cuban Food Recipes You Must Try!