here and there

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What is Cuban Food????


Thinking about Cuban food as we flew into the beautiful tropical island, it just had to be seafood and wonderful tropical fruit.  Knowing the history of this island, colonization by the Spaniards and African being brought in as slaves, these influences should be seen in the cuisine.  

 
Chickens roaming everywhere including the streets of Varadero and seeing pigs in one’s yard along with cattle in the fields and some cattle carefully tied along the side of the roads to graze on greener grass.







           Although we are in a resort, which would cater to the western taste, local products should be in abundance on the menu.  We were told that rice was scarce, although this certainly was not apparent at the resort and made me think twice about leave any on my plate.  Although we had seen trucks with bags of potatoes, mashed potatoes and potatoes chunks were in some of the stews, potatoes did not seem to be a staple.  Steamed pumpkin with no seasonings was served frequently and was delicious

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Pork was referred to as the national dish.  In travelling to Havana, we did see a pig on a spit that was being cooked for those camping in the cottages by our beach.  This beautifully browned BBQ pig looked most appetizing as a line of people stood waiting for a slice of barbecued pork.   









The resort did have a BBQ on the beach for Cuban Days. A leg of pork was roasted and served with a bun, coleslaw and roasted plantains.  






 



At Cuban Days, they used coconuts as containers to serve rum drinks.  I especially enjoyed the fresh coconut after the chef used a long craving knife to hack the coconut open. To my surprise the actual coconut was about 4 inches in height, very small. 




Mahi mahi fish that was in a batter or flour coating was served separately or in a sauce.  Arroz con Pollo, Rice with Chicken" in Spanish, is a classic dish of Spain and was served in Cuba.   At the dinner buffets, roast of beef, pork, ham and roasted turkey and chicken were featured at different days and portions were craved by a chef.  Overall the chicken was my favourite.



As hot dishes, rice and beans were served separately or cooked together, along with dishes of cubed pork, lamb, beef or chicken.  The hot dishes were served in red rectangle cast iron dishes and sat on element of heat and these dishes tended to dry out.   The dishes were delicious if you were there shortly after they were prepared.. The fish that was grilling that I took of the grill was most delicious, although the chef was most upset that I took it of the grill before he thought it was ready.  My thoughts are that they may tend to over cook food due to the tropical temperature and are concerned about spoilage.
At lunch time, one could have a self designed pizza, pasta dish or Panini as could one do the same for omelettes at breakfast.

A salad bar with sliced tomatoes, lettuce, sliced cucumbers, grated carrots, shredded cabbage and beans (navy, black or red kidney).  Prepared dressing such as ranch and vinaigrette with fresh herbs, along with balsamic vinegar and Olive Oil was offered.








 

  
The fruit bar did have tropical fruits, slices of pineapple, guava in quarters, along with slices of watermelon and melons.  The pineapples were small as were the bananas and not as sweet or juicy.  I learned that apples do not grow in the tropics!  I learned how to eat guava properly, one eats all the fruit, including the rind.  Now I still don’t know if I can accurately describe this fruit, tasted like creamy strawberries, not a distinct taste that jumps out at you, yet the texture is unusual as you see a pink center with creamy color and tons of hard seeds with  a green rind, a miniature watermelon.  I can’t say I enjoyed the taste, yet the fruit did intrigue me.   

This fruit was used in many desserts and as fillings in pastry much like apples would be. Overall, the fruit was a disappointment, although the papaya was not, it was sweet and juicy. 



 




Two types of cheese were always served, both sliced; a mild cheddar and soft young aged cheese with a tangy taste.






 
 
The desserts were lovely to look at and I did enjoy the rice pudding that was very similar to my Mom’s recipe, creamy and snow white!
 










The breads were attractively displaced everyday.  The dough was sweet with eggs and sugar although they did have savory bread with jalapeños.  

The wedding meal for Alicia and George was held in one of their smaller restaurant.  An attractive salad plate and rock lobster which was fresh but overcooked was part of their wedding menu.   






 Just had to include pictures for the reason we were here!!!










  I think this was one of the only time we ate inside, the rest of the time we at on the Patio. The tables were always set in white linens. The waiters were dressed in smart short sleeved shirts,yellow with black dolphins and black mini pencil skirts or pants for the men. Black fish net stockings seemed to be most popular.


 Overall, the food was delicious although not that differently from what we would have at home.  The dishes were mildly seasoning with most common spices used in Cuban cuisine being garlic, cumin, oregano and bay or laurel leaves.   I left thinking how globalized we are as I truly can not tell you what  is Cuban food! 

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