Havana, Mar 7 (Prensa Latina) Cuban culinary professionals work hard to include the island’s cuisine as a cultural and tourist attraction, and to do so, they promote the idea of creating a gastronomic route and giving visibility to local ingredients. Cuban cuisine has been largely influenced by its native people, Spanish and African cultures and to a lesser extent by Haitian, Chinese, Italian, American, Mexican and French influence. The resulting mixture is what characterizes Cuban cuisine’s authentic flavors. ‘The aromas that motivated renowned Cuban historian Don Fernando Ortiz to affirm that Cuba is a melting pot stem from that rich mixture,’ said the president of the Cuban Culinary Federation (FCC), Chef Eddy Fernandez Monte.
In 2019, Cuban traditional cuisine was declared National Cultural Heritage because of their long-standing traditions, collective preparation, histories and familial and social links.
Recipes and Regions
The FCC sponsored a study to differentiate traditional dishes by region – Western, Central and Eastern – upon the basis of historical elements. This research comprised of 30 typical recipes, including fried pork chunks; Cuban rice; Cuban sandwich (typically made of pork, ham, pickles, butter and cheese), yucca with garlic sauce, tostones (fried, mashed plantains), and fried fish.
Fernandez explained that according to the study, the eastern area is characterized by the consumption of boiled products and root vegetables, roasted pork, and congrí (rice and beans cooked together). In the central Camagüey province, the consumption of beans in the afternoon is less common as soup is preferred. Meanwhile, in Havana (the west), people prefer fried food and recipes such as yellow rice with chicken – a typical Sunday lunch.
‘Thanks to popular knowledge, we hold onto grandmas’ recipes and know how to prepare dishes such as casabe (yucca bread), black bean soup, rabo encendido (oxtail, tomato, onion and pepper stew) and desserts such as buñuelo (yucca and sweet potato fritter), guava shells, and atropellado matancero (a coconut and pineapple mixture),’ Fernandez added. The Federation, with more than 65,000 members, works directly with the public and spreads methods of preservation and recipes based on the products most commonly found in the markets. It also promotes healthy food habits and conducts workshops on culinary topics for children and seniors.