Is There Such a Thing as Cuban Food?

History of Cuban Cuisine

Is there such a thing as Cuban food? And, what really is Cuban food? When we think of the different indigenous ethnic groups in North/South America, we tend to forget that Cuba's history is a bit different than most. For starters, unlike Mexico and our own country the US of A, there are very few Native American Peoples living in Cuba - that is to say, it's rare to find someone in Cuba whom will associate themselves with the Native Americans - most Cubans will tell you that they are perhaps of European, African, Arab, Jewish or even of Chinese ancestry, but it's rare to find an individual in Cuba whom will admit to being of Native American Ancestry.

When we walk into a Cuban bakery - there are some excellent Cuban bakeries in Los Angeles by the way.... People - ironically enough - Cuban people, will ask for a loaf or portion of their famous and delicious bread "dame un pan Cubano," well, the so called 'Cuban bread', is really French bread. - Yes, it may have a stronger and more accented flavor than French bread does (due to Cuba's Creole culture which will be discussed later on), nonetheless, it's French bread, not really Cuban bread.

Cuban pastries are no different - Cuban pastries are really just a combination of French pastries, but with a higher sugar content. Sugar is big on the island of Cuba. Cuban sugar canes were practically worshiped by the Soviets during Russia's occupation of Cuba; Cuban sugar is sweeter and tastier than most, due to their succulent canes. Sugar canes are also used to make delicious shakes known as "guarapo."

The three cultures which have influenced Cuba the most were: Spain, France and Africa. Cuba's so called Creole cooking, is really just a combination of French and African cuisine. Cuban food has also been influenced by the Chinese. Creole cooking is merely French food but with stronger spices; seasonings and strong spices seem to be the defining point in most Creole cuisines, and Cuban food is no exception to this rule. But to pose the question again: is there really such a thing as Cuban food?

Here are a list of some of Cuba's most famous and delicious main entrees:

1. Camarones en Salsa Criollo (Shrimps in Creole Sauce) - typically served with white rice

2. Rabo Encendido (Ox Tail) - typically served with white rice

3. Carne con Papa (Meat and Potatoes) - typically served with white rice

4. Tortilla con Jamon y Papas Fritas (Omelet with Ham and French fries) - typically served with rice and black beans

5. Media Noche Sandwich (Midnight Sandwich - ham, pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard) - typically served with French fries.

So again, is there such a thing as Cuban food? Most would say yes, but you cannot ignore all of the different cultures that went into making it what it is today.

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Comments 12 comments

medor profile image

medor 5 years ago from Michigan, USA

The photos are excellent... the ideas are great... the question is answered... yes there is Cuban food, it is a melting pot of all the cultures... I love it... nice job. think I will look up the Camarones en Salsa Criollo and find a recipe... thanks nice hub.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

Sounds delicious and since Cuban food seems to be from a melting would appear that they got the best from each of the melding of cultures.

John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

Thanks Peggy.

Yes, you can see Cuba's culture in their food, and also on people's faces....

John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

Thanks medor - I think I personally emailed you already....

Yes, Cuban food is's very similar to the food one finds in New Orleans. The only difference is that Cuban food isn't spicy (hot)

LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

BTW Cuban bread started as French bread but developed a consistency and makeup of its own. This is an excellent hub and I'm glad to be able to enjoy some of these dishes, especially living in Miami (La Pequena Havana) as we like to call it. lol thanks for posting

John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

I'm glad you enjoyed my hub Luis - speaking of Florida, I'm headed there in two weeks.

Take care of yourself, and thank you.


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

If coming to Miami let me know, I'll share some tips with you.

whoisbid profile image

whoisbid 5 years ago

I feel that a lot of people don't much about Cuba because of propaganda. I would like to visit Cuba one day and see it for myself and eat some food there. I have learnt that a lot of information on certain countries has been false and I've found that out by going to those countries myself. It is nice to see Cuban information from a Cuban perspective. Let me encourage you to write more about Cuba since you are qualified to do this.

John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

Hi whoisbid,

Thank you for commenting.

Yes, I feel that Cuban food is the most delicious of all, but what do I know, being Cuban and all. I do enjoy Chinese food and also American food. I also enjoy soul food because it reminds me a little bit of Cuban food.

Take care of yourself


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leann2800 5 years ago

I agree that Cuban food like most foreign cuisine is really an American adaptation of that food. I was born in Florida where a lot of Cubans live and I miss the cuisine from that area. The "Cuban" food they serve in Georgia is not the Floridian interpretation of Cuban food and its just not as good to me. I would love some Cuban soup and a Cuban sandwich right now. Interesting hub.

Spinmommy 4 years ago

By the way, here's a good website to order genuine Cuban food from (they deliver even out west as I used to live on the west coast in a town DEVOID of genuine Cuban food and got my hankering satisfied by these guys). - they're in Calle Ocho in Little Havana, so you know it's good!

John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

I was just there last week, Versailles was crowded as usual, but I was told their food isn't all that great. Who knows? There are so many great places in Miami, that it's hard to decide. I love "Serrucho" (King Fish) and Larios has the best King Fish dinner with rice and black beans so far - loved it!

Take care


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