Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Cuban Cuisine

Cuban cuisine has many influences and tastes from around the world that make up it's unique flavor. The influences in Cuba's food come from Europe, Africa, China, Caribbean, and Spanish cultures. In most of Eastern Cuba you can find food with African, Caribbean, European, and Latin American influences. There you will find food with a lot more spices due to Caribbean immigrants moving to Cuba. Also the manner in which the meals are cooked are found in Africa, such as Fufu de platano (Fufu is derived from western Africa) which is mashed plantains stuffed with pork, chicken, or shrimp. Most of these foods were not seen by Che for many months as they require a great deal of preparation and technique.
Western Cuba has similar tastes but influences from the other side of the world. In western food you'll come across Chinese, Spanish, and a little European flavor. The Chinese influence is seen in many rice dishes where beans are not added, and the use of flour which is mostly excluded in common Spanish foods. This is food that Che ate during his journey through Latin America as it is the cheapest and easiest to prepare. Pastries are also very common in western Cuba, like pasteles, a puff pastry filled with fruit (mainly guava).Others like croquetas include meat and peppers inside the pastry. If Che came across any while traveling it would have been a delicacy to have eaten.
.Croquettes with salad.jpg
Finally, mate. Mate is a very well known Latin brew of the yerba plant that is ingested through a bombilla (a metal or wooden straw that filters the yerba) and a calabash gourd. Mate was originally used by indigenous Guarani to southern Brazil and soon spread through South America as European colonies started to sprout. Through the years it has become one of the most common drinks in Latin America as seen in "The Motorcycle Diaries" as Che's and Alberto's go to drink in times of tiredness, sickness, or even thirst. There has also been drinks based off of mate, such as Materva, a Cuban mate mixture created before the Cuban Revolution that gave Cubans the mate taste with a twist. With the revolution Materva died out but luckily in the 1960's a Florida based company bought the drink and it has ever since been sold in the United States.
File:Mate en calabaza.jpg
Traditional calabash gourd and bombilla straw with mate.

Current day "Materva" can.

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