Arroz con pollo (rice with chicken)
Arroz con pollo (rice with chicken)

Cuban cuisine is largely based on Spanish cuisine with influence from African and other Caribbean cuisines. Some Cuban recipes share spices and techniques with Spanish, African and Taino cooking, with some Caribbean influence in spice and flavor. This results in a blend of the several different cultural influences. A small but noteworthy Chinese influence can also be accounted for, mainly in the Havana area. There is also some Italian influence. During colonial times, Cuba was an important port for trade, and the Spanish ancestros of Cubans brought with them the culinary traditions of different parts of Spain.[1]


As a result of the colonization of Cuba by Spain, one of the main influences on the cuisine is from Spain.[2] Other culinary influences include the Taíno, the indigenous people of Cuba, Africa, from the Africans who were brought to Cuba as slaves, and French, from the French colonists who came to Cuba from Haiti.[3] Another factor is that Cuba is an island, making seafood something that greatly influences Cuban cuisine. Another contributing factor to Cuban cuisine is that Cuba is in a tropical climate, which produces fruits and root vegetables that are used in Cuban dishes and meals.[4]

A typical meal consists of rice and beans, cooked together or apart. When cooked together the recipe is called "congri" or "Moros" or "Moros y Cristianos" (black beans and rice). If cooked separately it is called "arroz con frijoles" (rice with beans) or "arroz y frijoles" (rice and beans).[5]

Cuban sandwich

A typical Cuban sandwich (picture from South Florida)
A typical Cuban sandwich (picture from South Florida)

A Cuban sandwich (sometimes called a mixto, especially in Cuba[6][7]) is a popular lunch item that grew out of the once-open flow of cigar workers between Cuba and Florida (specifically Key West and the Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa) in the late 19th century and has since spread to other Cuban American communities.[8][9][10]

The sandwich is built on a base of lightly buttered Cuban bread and contains sliced roast pork, thinly sliced Serrano ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, and yellow mustard. In Tampa, Genoa salami[11] is traditionally layered in with the other meats, probably due to influence of Italian immigrants who lived side by side with Cubans and Spaniards in Ybor City.[12] Tomatoes and lettuce are available additions in many restaurants, but these are considered by traditionalists as an unacceptable Americanization of the sandwich.[6][13]

After assembly, the Cuban sandwich may be pressed in a grooveless panini-type grill called a plancha, which both heats and compresses the contents.[6]

List of Cuban dishes and foods

Ropa vieja (shredded flank steak in a tomato sauce base), black beans, yellow rice, plantains and fried yuca with beer
Ropa vieja (shredded flank steak in a tomato sauce base), black beans, yellow rice, plantains and fried yuca with beer

List of Cuban drinks

Two Cuba Libres

See also


  1. ^ Rodriguez, H. Cuban Food Profile: Cuban Food History
  2. ^ "Cuban Cuisine - a Mellow Mixture of Spain and Africa". The Washington Post.
  3. ^ Rodriguez, H. "Cuban Food Profile: Cuban Food History"
  4. ^ Murray, J. Cuban Cuisine, Cuba History and Their Food
  5. ^ "Cuban Black Beans and Rice - Frijoles Negros". Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  6. ^ a b c "Authentic Cuban Sandwich Restaurants in Tampa and Miami". Visit Florida. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  7. ^ "Tampabay: To each, his own sandwich". Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  8. ^ "Sink teeth into quest for best Cuban sandwich". 15 August 2010. Archived from the original on 11 February 2020.
  9. ^ ""Welcome to Cuban Sandwich City" - Cigar City Magazine". 3 June 2010. Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  10. ^ "Tampa history is traced in its sandwich". 3 June 2010. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  11. ^ Three Guys From Miami (n.d.). "Sandwich Cubano / Cuban Sandwich". iCuban website.
  12. ^ Otto, Steve (24 October 2007). "Cuban Is Ours, Any Way You Try To Slice It". The Tampa Tribune. Archived from the original on 7 May 2009.
  13. ^ Stern, Jane and Michael (2009). 500 Things to Eat before It's Too Late and the Very Best Places to Eat Them. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-547-05907-5.


Historical aspects of Cuban cuisine