Let’s Talk about Food; Cuban Cuisine

Maybe it’s because I’m writing this post with a growling tummy, but this week I’ve decided to write about Cuban Cuisine! A little bit of background on the topic, the cuisine of this small island received influence from Spanish, African, and Caribbean dishes. And of course, being so close to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, receives inspiration from both these places as well. Some of the most basic popular dishes of Cuba are rice and beans, known as, “Congri,” “Moros,” or “Moros y Cristianos.” Also popular are fruits and root veggies such as bananas or plantains because of the tropical climate and the ease of growing such foods. And of course, the sandwiches. You can’t talk about Cuban Cuisine without talking about a Cuban sandwich! Typically, a Cubano (or “mixto” in Cuba) is made up of slices of roasted pork, ham, swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles on buttered Cuban bread and toasted or pressed. Back home in Maryland, I work as a hostess in a restaurant called Centre Park Grill.  We once had a Cuban couple come into the restaurant and order our version of the Cuban sandwich, which they said was the best Cuban sandwich they’d had since coming to America, and tasted most similarly to the ones back home. The Cubanos at Centre Park Grill were really good, so I’m hoping we’ll get a chance to try some on our trip to Cuba so I can get the chance to compare them myself! Other popular sandwiches include, “medianoche,” “pan con lechon,” “Elena Ruz,” or “Frita.” Going back to the more popular dish of rice and beans, the reason this dish is so prominent is because meat is more scarce in Cuba. Since the small country is socialist and not the most economically stable, food must be distributed among all people, which is a difficult task considering the lack of food to actually disperse. According to Wikipedia, there is a rationing system to determine where all the food goes and how it is broken up to the people, but unfortunately meat is one of the less available items and is therefore not as popular in everyday dishes.  Learning this information actually surprised me a bit. In America, food is so accessible, it’s easy to take for granted. It’s one thing to throw around the issues of this smaller, less economically stable country from the comfort of our air-conditioned classroom, but to actually understand the struggles the citizens face, even with such basic things as getting food, is more difficult. Through our discussions and research for my blog posts, I’m working on better understanding what Cubans actually go through in their day-to-day lives, and I’m reminded to be thankful for all that I have. I’m thankful for the opportunity to get to learn and experience Cuban cuisine and other elements of Cuba on our upcoming trip, and get to taste what it’s like to live in Cuba for the few days we are there!

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