Cuba is the first and last Spanish colony in the Caribbean so it makes sense that Cuban food would certainly have a strong Spanish influence. In fact, many of the Cuban dishes we eat today have roots in the Spanish region of Andalucia.
Cuban food is very heavy in root and tuber types of food like malanga, potatoes, boniatos, and yucca. Other starchy food that is often incorporated includes plantains, bananas, and rice. Think the always popular Moros y Cristianos (black beans and rice), lechón asado (slow roasted pork), and pollo en salsa (chicken in sauce). When you hear the word tortilla, in Cuba, that actually means an egg omelet, not what most American’s think of as the Mexican tortilla.
According to the website www.gourmetbetty.com, traditional meals in Cuba include breakfast with Cafe con Leche, toasted Cuban bread with butter, and perhaps scrambled eggs with cheese. Lunch is usually in the late afternoon between 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. and is the main meal with as many as three courses; a tomato and avocado salad, followed by traditional black beans with white rice and picadillo, and a dessert like flan. For dinner, it’s something light like a sandwich or some cheese and chorizo. Many Cubans also end the evening with a shot of Cuban coffee and some ice cream with Spanish rolled cookies.
Cuban Creamed Plantain Soup with Cilantro (www.TasteofCuba.com)
3 large plantains
juice from 1/2 lemon
3 tbsp butter, unsalted
1 medium onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 clove garlic, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup canned evaporated milk
1/2 cup coconut milk (may use from can)
1/3 cup cilantro
1 tsp grated orange peel
3 tablespoons lime juice
Peel plantains and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Place in a bowl or shallow dish and splash with lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Heat butter in a heavy saucepan on medium heat, adding onion and garlic. Sauté about 6-8 minutes or until onion is tender. Add plantains and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add salt and pepper. Simmer about 25-30 minutes until plantains are soft.
Place mixture in blender and puree until mixture is not quite fine (over blending will ruin it). Return to saucepan and add evaporated milk and coconut milk. Simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. In a blender or food processor, blend cilantro, garlic, orange peel and lime juice. After blending, swirl this mixture into the soup and serve. Serves 5-6.