Admission Requirements For Culinary Institute Of America A Movable Feast: Cuban Foods

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A Movable Feast: Cuban Foods

Cuban cuisine is a fusion of Spanish, African, and Caribbean (Tainos Indian) cuisine and includes recipes, flavors and cooking from all three cultures. This results in a delicious mix that is simple, with fresh vegetables, fruits, cassava, beans, grilled meat and fish. In Cuba, rice and beans are important, along with chicken, pork and beef, as in traditional Spanish and Mexican cuisine, but the combination and cooking are different.

Historian Ernest Hemingway spent many years in Cuba, writing and enjoying the local cuisine, after dictator Fidel Castro overthrew the country’s government in 1959, closing one of his favorite American vacation spots. But Cuban cuisine is thriving in South Florida, and walking into a Cuban restaurant looking for fish tacos, chicken enchiladas or shrimp burritos is a no-brainer. You don’t find them, unless they are very American. What you will find are authentic Cuban dishes, decorated with spices, a base of rice and black beans and other delicious dishes with plantains and other tropical fruits. examples of the above native displays:

International Cuban food: Ropa Vieja (side-cooked steak in tomato sauce), black beans, yellow rice, fried yucca and plantain, washed down with cold local beer;

Coming in second place is Arroz Con Pollo (rice with chicken), as usual;

Moors and Christians: black beans and rice;

Fried Plantains: a frequent side dish; (ripe plantains have peels that are almost black, so don’t let this put you off);

Tuna in spicy tomato sauce; tuna (bonito) is abundant in Cuba;

Yucca plant: (Chigwada) a substitute for potatoes;

Sofrito: a basic tomato sauce added to meat or rice dishes;

Flan: (baked custard) a popular dessert, like in Mexico;

Helado de Mango: hot mango sherbet;

Aceitunas Alinadas: salty olives;

Ensalada Cubana Tipica: (Cuban salad) your favorite raw lettuce and tomato;

Their popular and essential spices are found almost everywhere in the US and include bay laurel, oregano, coriander, cumin and pepper. Many soups have a tomato base.

In Cuba, bananas and plantains make up 47% and 24%, respectively, of what is produced in the area and is grown for domestic consumption. Other tropical fruits grown in Cuba include mangoes, papayas, pineapples, avocados, and guavas. Plantains have never caught on in the US as much as we love our bananas, and plantains have a sweet taste, which is often used in cooking rather than eaten raw. It’s an acquired taste to prove it, which many Americans have never experienced.

Cuban cuisine can be vegetarian-friendly, thanks to the generous use of beans, rice, vegetables and fruits, but don’t expect to order tofu or a protein substitute. Most of the Cuban people are poor, so the native diet can be limited without adding meat, fish or fowl. However, don’t let this stop you from enjoying their desserts, salads and rice dishes. Yucca is a popular starch like corn, but not in tortilla form like Mexican food. (It is guaranteed that you will not find any corn with oil or puppies, made from corn.)

Although many countries speak the same language as Spanish, this does not mean that they eat the same food. So get out there and expand your repertoire by exploring Cuban cuisine if you get the chance, not to mention our Mexican favorites. Havana doesn’t have any fast food restaurants, but if it did, you can be sure that Taco Bell wouldn’t be among them.

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