Cuba is a Latin American country on the island of the Caribbean. Christopher Columbus claimed it for the Spanish crown after his 1492 arrival. Prior to the Spanish conquest and subsequent immigration of African slaves, Cuba was mostly populated by the Arawak people. After Spain recognised Cuba as a colony, the island was governed by a Spaniard for nearly 400 years.
Roman Catholicism, which was brought to Cuba by the Spanish, is still the country’s most prominent religion today. Over time, Catholicism has become entwined with the religious traditions of other cultures, leading to a wide variety of syncretism.
One of the best ways to understand a culture is to try its food. Of course, the cuisine of a people is one of the best windows into their way of life. It’s simple (and delicious) to do so with the abundance of Cuban restaurants in Key West. Cuban food is an integral part of daily life on the island, from the morning cup of café con Leche and Cuban cheese toast to the afternoon mojito.
To understand more, here are some of the dishes which belong to Cuban culture. On trying, these dishes will give you the complete taste of the culture-
Rice, Beans & Plantains
As a side dish to nearly every meal in Cuba, rice and beans provide fuel and comfort. It’s usually served with black beans and white rice. Some meals, such as arroz con pollo or rice with chicken, necessitate the addition of additional ingredients. Plantains are another Cuban staple. They have a similar texture and flavour to bananas and can be cooked fried and salty, like tostones, or stewed and sweet. Tostones Rellenos, which are fried plantains packed with everything from garlic shrimp to spicy beef, are a popular appetiser.
The cuisine of Cuba exemplifies the melting pot of the island’s Spanish and African heritages. Its sauces and spices are a perfect example of this fact. Commonly, mojo criollo is created with garlic, oil, and sour orange juice, and it is served with everything from chicken to hog.
Ropa vieja is widely regarded as a signature dish of Cuban cuisine. Tender shredded beef is gently simmered in a savoury sauce made from fresh tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, and wine. According to its roots, the meal is served with white rice, black beans, and sweet plantains.
Pescado, Gambas Y Camarones
Given that both Cuba and Key West are situated on the coast, seafood naturally features heavily in Cuban cuisine. Fresh fish is available in a variety of preparations, such as mahi-mahi fillets marinated in Cuban criollo sauce and shrimp doused in a garlic and wine sauce.
Cuban Mix Sandwich, Cuban Toast & Pork
This is a great Cuban classic, for sure. A classic dish of this cuisine is the Cuban mix sandwich. It’s a popular and tasty sandwich that’s made by pressing roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard between two pieces of crispy Cuban bread. The pork, a staple of Cuban cuisine, and the crusty Cuban bread are the two main components of a Cuban sandwich. This bread’s style is similar to the French baguette, but it’s prepared with a small quantity of lard to give it a fluffier, lighter feel.
The residents of Cuba have a passion for coffee that goes through their veins. To put it bluntly, you haven’t lived until you’ve experienced Cuban coffee. This sweet and potent brew can be enjoyed on its own as a Bucci or colada, or with milk (con Leche).
You have probably tried rum and found it to be delicious. On the other hand, Cuban Rum is truly exceptional. Sugar cane is abundant in Cuba, and as a result, rum has become an integral part of Cuban culture. Various alcoholic beverages, such as the daiquiris that Hemingway famously sipped at the Floridita Bar in Havana and the mojitos produced by muddling mint leaves and sugar, are widely available in modern-day Key West.
Now that we have mentioned some of the dishes and beverages which have deep roots in Cuban culture, we would like you to try them out all one by one. We guarantee you, that after trying them once you won’t be able to let go of the taste they bring to your taste buds.