Exactly this time two years ago I was cycling around Cuba (sans padded bike pants – something I definitely don’t recommend) and taking in the lush countryside, communist signs (of which there are many) and salsa beats coming off every street. It was one of the most memorable travel adventures I’ve ever had.
I felt compelled to go before it was too late. Before the Cadillacs disappeared and the Castro’ had their last days in office. That sentiment is even more relevant now that the Cubans and Americans have politically kissed and made up and the borders are opening. The country is fast catching up with the rest of the world, whether that’s for better or worse.
The legacy of that trip is still with me now, mainly in the form of salsa dancing which I’ve taken to like $2 mojitos (only in Cuba). I can’t say I brought back a truckload of recipes and culinary inspiration as I have from trips to Europe, Asia and Mexico (unless you count variations on the mojito), but I certainly embraced the food offering in Cuba, if only because it is so unique.
So what was the national dish of Cuba? Well after two weeks I surmised that it was the toasted ham and cheese sandwich. Because they were EVERYWHERE. Every hotel, every street corner, and the only item of food one could buy at the airport.
Of course when staying with locals in a casa particulare, you are treated like royalty, to the best standard that your host can afford. Having a casa license is like gold in Cuba and hosts are careful not to step a foot wrong. So a meal at a casa is a showcase of the best food the host has access to. The meals are humble but tasty. Read More