A Foodie’s Guide to Cuba
I’m a foodie at heart and I don’t mind admitting that I routinely plan my vacations around what I want to eat. My secret to an awesome trip? Plan my “must-have” meals just like I plan my “must-see” destinations. That is exactly what I did during my most recent trip to Cuba.
Breakfast was one of my favorite meals of the day in Cuba. The table would be filled with fresh fruits, meats, cheeses, breads, eggs, hand squeezed juices, and much more. It was a feast for the eyes and for the palette. The fresh fruit melts in your mouth and the hand squeezed juices seduce your taste buds. The bread and eggs are unbelievably fresh while the meats and cheeses add to the hardiness of the meal. It is an amazing way to start the day. And don’t get me started on the coffee…
The Coffee is DELICIOUS. Its strong, robust flavor delights the tastebuds and warms the soul. My heart swells at the thought of it and it routinely makes an appearance in my daydreams.
Your breakfast sets you up nicely for a day of productive sightseeing. But be sure not to fill up too much because you don’t want to miss out on the amazing lunch options.
Cuban sandwiches, as known as Cubanos, are piled high with ham or roast pork, cheese, and pickles. They are routinely grilled in a plancha (sandwich press) until the interior ingredients are warmed to perfection and the bread is delectably crispy. It has become a lunchtime staple; I promise you’ll understand why after a mouthful or two.
Pizza is another great lunchtime option for a quick, delicious meal. You’ll see a lot of people eating a small pizza folded up like a taco while walking the street. The crust is thin and crispy while the cheese bubbles on top. The fresh from the oven smell makes it hard to resist while you wait for it to cool down. I routinely took a bite a bit too soon… I don’t regret it.
Traditional sit down meals are best saved for the evening meal. That way your can sit down at a vibrant eatery, relax, and enjoy a fresh meal while listening to live music. If you venture out of the tourist area, you’ll be able to find a number of palavers, or home-based restaurants, that offer foodies the unforgettable experience of mixing local culture with culinary curiosity.
The key to traditional Cuban food is simplicity. Unlike some of the neighbouring countries, chilli and other spices are rarely used. The lack of spices is made up for with flavoursome pork or chicken served with beans, vegetables, rice, and fried plantains. Another favourite is ropa vieja, a rich beef stew served with rice. It is originated during the Spanish colonial days and has become one of Cuba’s national dishes.
If you are looking for something to satisfy your sweet tooth, Churros are the way to go. These fresh doughnut-like treats are sold from street carts around the historic center. The tantalising smell make them difficult to resist. Another classic dessert is Torticas de Moron, which is a sweet shortbread typically made with Guava. Want something more familiar? You’ll find ice cream throughout the city, but I recommend visiting parque coppelia for the most authentic experience.
Regardless of what you options you choose, your inner foodie will rejoice with over authentic Cuban cuisine.