Cuba in a Glass & on a Plate
Culinary travel is on the rise and what better way to experience a culture than by diving deep into people’s favorite dishes and beverages? You can get to know a whole community by experiencing the kinds of foods that remind them of their families, the cocktails they share during love affairs, and the flavors and cooking techniques handed down from countless generations.
On our Cuba Food Adventure: Hidden Culinary Allure itinerary, you’ll have the opportunity to both take a step back in time and take a step forward in cultural relations as you discover Cuba’s culture through its cuisine. Visit farms and markets, learn from local chefs, and dine at some of the island’s most renowned private restaurants, or “paladares” to discover a cuisine that has evolved both with many cultural influences and in complete isolation from other cultures for certain periods. If you like to cook, this award-winning Cuba itinerary includes innovative cooking and cocktail classes inside local Cuban kitchens and top restaurants.
Cuban cuisine is a mix of African, Spanish, and Caribbean influences and features staple ingredients like rice, beans, plantains, pork, citrus fruits, seafood, and a variety of spices such as cumin, oregano and garlic. Bold flavors and bright colors lend the cuisine a sense of celebration as well as reflecting the country’s history and cultural influences.
Cuba’s cuisine also reflects the island’s turbulent political past. When Fidel Castro was in power, Cuba faced significant economic challenges forcing the people to be creative with ingredients in the face of rationing and shortages. Some of the country’s favorite dishes were developed during these challenging times.
The most well-known and beloved Cuban dish is called “Ropa Vieja” which means “old clothes.” The dish gets its name from an old Spanish legend that describes a poor man who cooked his clothes in a pot with vegetables and miraculously produced a delicious stew. This dish includes slow-cooked shredded beef, onions, garlic, peppers, and tomatoes. It’s often served with rice, black beans, plantains and a side salad.
According to Yami Cabrera from Chef’s Pencil, some of Cuba’s other most popular dishes include:
"Pan con Lechon (Roast Pork Sandwich): The tasty pan con lechón is a typical sandwich that you can buy in any Cuban cafeteria, as well as at small timbiriches (food stands) in the middle of the street. Bread with roast pork is possibly the most popular sandwich on the island. The soft dough of the bread goes perfectly with the shredded pork, and its special mojo. You can also add tomato, lettuce, and pickles.
Yuca con Mojo: Yucca with mojo is another dish always found at Cuban family celebrations. It is a simple and healthy dish usually offered as an appetizer. And that’s because given the high concentration of glucose in this tuber, it is not a good idea to eat it in large quantities. There are two different types of cooking for cassava with mojo: boiled and fried. However, in both cases it is necessary to boil the cassava to obtain a soft texture. After achieving the required texture, it only remains to add the mojo sauce, and sometimes pork rinds."
The island of Cuba also has many regional specialties attributed to different towns. Some of these include:
Cangrejo Enchilado: A spicy crab stew that is a specialty of the city of Santiago de Cuba. It is made with fresh crab meat, tomatoes, onions, peppers, and a blend of spices.
Ajiaco: A hearty soup that is a specialty of the western province of Pinar del Rio. It is made with a variety of root vegetables, plantains, and meat, and is flavored with lime juice and a blend of spices.
On this comprehensive Cuba Food Adventure: Hidden Culinary Allure, you’ll also get to take in local art, dance salsa with local experts, ride in one of the fabulously preserved 1950’s vehicles and visit multiple towns to try their specialties. If Cuba has always fascinated you the way it has me with its isolation from the rest of the world, innovative organic farming techniques, and an inclusive education system, I hope you’ll contact us to either join a group date or plan a custom set of dates for your family and friends on this delicious and culturally fascinating foodie expedition. This program offers year-round dates.