Abuela Estela. She was the best chef you could ever dreamed of. And although it is probably true that everyone says the same thing about their grandma, she really was the best. So when non-Cubans ask us about Cuban food, we simply tell the story of the classic dishes we ate at home growing up, and then, if given the chance, we bring the story to life at their tables. So, to answer your question, here is what a typical cookery in Cuba is like.
Some people don't know this but in most homes in Cuba, if rice has not been served, food is not ready yet. So, on a typical day abuela would prepare rice and black beans [cooked together we call it “Congri“, or you may have heard “Moros y Cristianos”, while cooked separately we call it “Arroz con Frijoles” Rice with Beans.
She would also make a main course; chicken, beef, pork, or seafood dishes mainly, but also occasionally turkey and lamb recipes. There was always also some sort of vianda [root vegetables like yuca, sweet potato, taro, or potatos, as well as either plantains or bananas to go with the meal.
Salad was also an essential part of the meal, usually made a mix of fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, lettuce, avocado, cabbage, cucumber, and onions. By the way, avocados in Cuba are large with a lot of flesh.
And dessert, of course, we are the land of Azucar!!! Typically a very native sweet delicacy made out of tropical fruits, accompanied by cheese or else flan, custard, or a yummy flaky pastry.
On very special occasions we would have specialty drinks, like a mojito o daiquiry before dinner (and perhaps later) served along with picaditos. Sometimes, beer, malta, or tropical fruit juices were served with the main course. Most times, just water did the job!
...and then, when all this was ready, abuela Estela would call out loudly to the whole family "¡ A comer !" So, let's eat!
Unfortunately, in today's Cuba food tends to be scarce. The culinary culture of the island has been somewhat stagnant for years now, especially since the 1990s. Even so, Cubans have resorted to all sorts of ways to cook the food they have available and make do with little. Also, due to the lack of availability of industrial pesticides and fertilizers, the vast majority of the food grown in Cuba is organic. When you visit a home in Cuba, you notice the difference.
in OuR CuBaN Kitchen, we are proud to bring you just that: my abuela Estela's sazon, to your table.