Cities Journal
Globe Trotter

A Taste Of Cuba: The Most Popular Traditional Foods

In our new Globe Trotter series, Viral Travel reviews all the best places to see, eat, and stay at, in every country of the world!

This week we visit: Cuba


Traditional Cuban dishes have been influenced by a number of cultures, including Spanish, French, African, Arabic, Chinese and Portuguese. However, despite the culinary abundance, Cuban cuisine has managed to stay simple and original.

As a matter of fact, Cuban dishes are unique in that people aren’t concerned with measurements, timing and order. Although this may sound pretty strange to Americans and Europeans, traditional Cuban cuisine is primarily peasant cuisine which greatly relies on improvisation. The food is prepared simply, and Cubans mostly use a few basic spices such as garlic, oregano, cumin, and bay laurel leaves. Many dishes use sofrito, a mixture of onion, green pepper, garlic, oregano, and ground pepper quick-fried in olive oil, as their basis and it is sofrito that gives the food its flavor.


One of Cuba’s most popular dishes is called criollo, a peasant food that consists of chicken, beef, pork, eggs, beans, rice and vegetables like tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, cassava (yucca) and plantain (a fruit that is similar to a banana). Other popular foods include moros y cristianos, black beans and rice, empanadas and pastelitos, meat-stuffed turnovers similar to Italian calzones, ropa vieja, meat in a rich sauce, and sandwiches such as media noche, a ‘midnight’ sandwich which consists of pork, ham and Swiss cheese topped with pickles and mustard.

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