Cuba has a lot more to offer and that is really delicious dishes. Cuban cuisine lives from the influences of Spanish, African, and Caribbean cuisine. So you really shouldn’t be afraid to visit one of the many private restaurants and eat your way through the many delicacies.
The following Cuban starters, main courses, desserts, sweets, and drinks are absolute must-eats and must-drinks:
Foods to try in Cuba
1. Ropa Vieja
Ropa Vieja means something like “old clothes”. Ropa Vieja is the national dish of Cuba and one of the most popular dishes in the country. The dish has its origins in the Middle Ages, it is a traditional Sephardic dish.
The name comes from the boiled beef that has to cook until you can easily pull it apart. Because then it just looks like “old tattered clothes” . Peppers, onions, and often olives or capers and tomatoes are added to the meat during cooking. Every Cuban woman has her own recipe for Ropa Vieja, but it is definitely delicious everywhere!
Tostones, also known as chatinos in western Cuba and patacones in Colombia , are crispy plantains that have been fried twice. These are served both as a side dish and as a snack in between. Very filling, but tasty!
3. Yuca con Mojo
Yucca, also known as cassava, is another important crop in Cuba and in the whole of the Caribbean. Yucca is simply peeled, boiled and, as here in this country, the potato is served as a side dish. The taste is quite neutral, so mojo is often served with yucca. For the mojo, onions and garlic are fried in oil, with a splash of lime juice, a little salt and pepper.
4. Platanos Maduros
Platanos maduros are also fried plantains. While green plantains are used for tostones, the overripe black bananas are used for platanos maduros. Platanos maduros are slowly fried in the pan until they start to caramelize.
The sweet bananas are eaten as an accompaniment to fried chicken, bean soup, or as a stand-alone dish.
Platanos maduros are also found in Venezuela, for example, where they are prepared with cinnamon. In Honduras, plantains are served with sour cream.
Another typical Cuban dish that you can really find on every menu is camarones . The shrimp are served in tomato sauce, simply fried in the pan, or in coconut milk in Baracoa . The camarones are definitely delicious.
Drinks to try in Cuba
1. PIÑA COLADA
The Piña Colada was originally invented at the Caribe Hilton in Puerto Rico, but today the delicious cocktail is very popular all over the Caribbean. In Cuba, too, you can get Piña Colada in every restaurant and bar. The classic piña colada is prepared in a blender with Bacardi rum, sugar, lime juice, coconut cream, the juice of ripe pineapple, and ice.
Mojito is probably Cuba’s national drink. Apparently, the name Mojito comes from the West African word “mojo”, a cloth bag with magical spices and magic objects. Mojito means little magic. However, there is also a spice mixture of the same name from which the name could come.
3. Cuba Libre
Cuba Libre, translated as “free Cuba”, was first drunk around 1900 by American soldiers in Cuba. With the combination of Coca-Cola, rum, and lime juice, Cuba’s liberation from Spanish colonial rule was toasted. Today it is Cuba Libre, next to a mojito, one of the most typical Cuban drinks.
Malta, a sugary sweet non-alcoholic malt beer, is incredibly popular with Cubans. Actually very tasty, similar to our Karamalz. Only Malta is much sweeter, so in my opinion not very suitable as a thirst quencher, but still very tasty every now and then.
Guarapo is the Spanish name for sugar cane juice. The sugar cane juice is squeezed between rolling wheels and served with lots of ice. Very cute, but still a wonderful thirst quencher.