by Kaitlyn Patterson

Cuban Cuisine and It's History

Cuban Cuisine is derived from a multitude of cultures. Those cultures include Spanish,[2] African,[3] Caribbean[3] and aboriginal. Spain actually had a lot of influence on cuisine and more all over the Americas. The aboriginal culture means Cubans and their cuisine before Christopher Columbus
Cuban Flag
came to the Americas. Cuba was already a very diverse island with their own settlers [4] before Columbus. Before Columbus and the rest of his sailors came to this side of the planet, the Cubans fished and hunted. Since Cuba is an island, there is a plethora of seafood just waiting to be consumed. Some of the indigenous agricultural products of the island are: corn, cassava, peanuts, cashews, apples, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, peppers, pineapples, sour-sops and much more. [1]
A common misconception about Cuban Cuisine is that it is just like Mexican cuisine. This idea is, in all actuality, wrong. Mexican cuisine[5] can be very spicy; spicy meaning "caliente con savor". Mexican food[6] uses a lot of peppers along with their seeds. Cuban food does use peppers but it is not spicy in the hot sense. Cuban food has a lot of flavor. Cuban cuisine is most like Puerto Rican cuisine[7]. Cuban cuisine has a large base of Creole cuisine. A standard in cuban cuisine is "sofrito". It's made up of green peppers, onions, garlic, cumin, Cuban oregano and bay leaves.

West Cuba vs. East Cuba

Even though the small country just 90 miles south of Florida, there are some big differences, even in just their cuisine. The east and west parts of the country uses different recipes, different ingredients, etc. The use of the differences in west Cuba is most known in the capital city of Havana. This part of Cuba follow the criollo based cooking more-so than the rest of the island (the Spanish influenced part). Rice and beans are standard ingredients in this cuisine.
Arroz Salteado
They can be cooked in many ways and used in many forms. Some simple examples are: plain white rice and black beans, sauteed beans and rice, and arroz salteado (see right). Pastries, croquetas, papas rellenas, picadillo and more are among some of the more famous and standard Cuban foods[8]. Cuban pastires are one of the most popular. Cubans love their sugar and use it in a lot of their foods. A popular way to eat a pastry is with Guava fruit. Usually what happens is puff pastry is made and filled with fruit pulp and extract; guava is among the most popular alongside mango and pineapple. Croquetas are a type of filled bread and can be deep fried. Inside, the filling is usually ham or beef. Picadillo can be used as well. However picadillo is a more popular filling for papas fritas. Papas fritas are almost the same as croquetas however, the "paste" is made from mashed potatoes and other ingredients to give it that sticky feeling so that it will hold all the filling.Western Cuban cuisine also makes a larger use of eggs. They makes fried eggs, omelettes and more.
Eastern Cuban cuisine focuses more on the Caribbean and African influence. A good example of this would be the arroz congri
Arroz Congri
which consists of rice and red beans. The use of red beans is more prominent in the east because black beans aren't as popular. The fact that the eastern most part of the island is closer to the other Carribbean and African influenced island so they share a lot of commonalities

More popular Cuban dishes are:
  • Paella
  • Empanadas
  • Arroz con Pollo
  • Many types of Sandwhices like "el sandwich Cubano" and "el medianoche"

A Few Linguistic Bits and Pieces of Cuban Cuisine and Cuban Life

When the migration of the Africans effected the Cuban island, many words from African culture stuck in Cuban lifestyle. Since many dishes are derived from this African culture, some cuisine uses those derived words. This also took place outside of cuisine. For example in the Cuban music area of life, they did not have a word for bongo. When the Africans came and related that word to the instrument, the Cubans did not make up their own word for it, they just inherited a new word.


Video Interview with Chunchi
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[1] "Cuban Cuisine (la cocina cubana)." 08 Dec. 2009 <>
[2] "Spanishdialects-09a Spanish and Italian Influences on Argentine Cuisine" 08 Dec. 2009 <>
[3] "Spanishdialects-09a African Influence on the Caribbean" 08 Dec. 2009 <>
[4] "Cuban Cuisine" 08 Dec. 2009 <>
[5] "Mexican Cuisine" 08 Dec. 2009 <>
[6] "Traditional Mexican Dishes" 08 Dec. 2009 <>
[7] "Puerto Rican Cuisine" 07 Dec. 2009 <>
[8] "Cuban Cuisine" 06 Dec. 2009 <>
[9] Cox, Beverly and Martin Jacobs. Eating Cuban. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2006.