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World Travel Guide > Guides > Caribbean > Cuba

Cuba Food and Drink

Surprisingly for an island so rich in marine life, fish and seafood rarely top the menu – indeed, most seafood is exported. Cuban cuisine is a mix of Spanish and Afro-Caribbean, heavily reliant on rice, beans, chicken and pork. Depending on the season, fresh vegetables may be hard to come by – as a rule, the hotter the month, the more limited the selection.

Furthermore, flavours are limited by the lack of available herbs and spices and many visitors are surprised that Cubans often shun spicy flavours. Instead, food preparation relies heavily on the frying pan and deep fat fryer. Some of the best cooking – and often an illegal lobster or two – is found in 'paladares', small, private restaurants.

Specialities

Congrís: Black beans and rice, known locally as 'Moors and Christians'.

Frita: Local version of the American hamburger made with ground beef and chorizo served in small Cuban bread buns topped with onion and julienne potato fries.

Pulpeta: Meat loaf made with ground beef and ham stuffed with hard-boiled eggs.

Pan con timba: Bread with guayaba paste and cream cheese.

Ropavieja: Slow cooked beef simmered in tomato criollo sauce until it can be shredded.

Boliche: A beef roast stuffed with chorizo sausage and hard-boiled eggs.

Mojo: A sauce for roast pork (and other meats) made with oil, garlic, onion, oregano and bitter orange of lime juice.

Picadillo: A hash with minced beef, peppers, onions, garlic, cumin, tomato sauce, stock and olives, also with raisins, potatoes and capers.

Mojito: Potent national cocktail made from rum, soda water, crushed mint, lime juice and chopped ice.

Daiquiri: Blended cocktail of rum, ice, sugar, lime juice and a dash of maraschino.

Guarapo: Sugar cane juice.

Cafe Cubano: Espresso-style coffee.

Tipping

A 10% gratuity is normal.

Drinking age

16.

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