Cuban Corner ~ Rinconcito cubano
I'm proud to share a little bit about my culture with you in the hope that you will realize that not every latino/a that you meet is Mexican. My husband is Mexican and we have several Mexican-American teachers in the World Languages Department, but no, I'm not Mexican. I'm actually Cuban, Spanish and Chinese!
I hope you enjoy learning about my culture(s).
Let's start with
something we can all enjoy... food!
sandwich cubano y chicharritas
Cuban sandwich made of roast pork, ham, pickles, yellow mustard and swiss cheese on cuban bread and pressed until crispy and delicious served with a side of salty plantain chips.
Ropa Vieja (Old clothes)
That's a really fun name for this ultra tender beef dish. This is generally made with a really cheap cut of beef like chuck and it is stewed in a savory tomato based sauce until the meat shreds. It's enjoyed over white rice with a sweet side of fried plantains called maduros. There's a picture of those coming up too. Look out for them though, they are addictive.
Have you ever seen those big huge bananas at the super market? Those are plantains. You can eat them at almost any stage of ripeness. When they are mottled yellow with brown spots they are "maduros" or ripe and very sweet. Cubans and many other Latinos and Africans peel them and fry them so that they become creamy, tangy, caramelized pillows of deliciousness.
That same plantain when its green is fried and it comes out crispy and starchy like a potato.
This dish comes straight from Africa. We didn't even change the name. You take the green plantain, boil it and mash it. Then you make it interesting by adding garlic, salt and even chicharron (pork cracklings)
Papa rellena or stuffed potato is an ingenious way to use up your leftovers. They are little balls of mashed potatoes stuffed with ground beef then breaded and fried. It's like shepherd's pie in a ball.
Flan this speaks for itself.
These are yep, you guessed it, fried. Uh huh. Fried meat pies. The ground beef inside is cooked with onions, garlic, spices and some raisins for sweetness.
My son's favorite. Croquetas are a way to make a tiny little bit of meat go a loooong way. And yes, they are fried too. Don't judge. These delicate little logs of bechamel and either ham, chicken or fish are a delicious way to stretch your food budget. They also look kind of fancy if you ask me.
THE most tender little cake you will EVER put in your mouth. Drowning in a HEAVY syrup gently flavored with anise and lemon zest. You'll just die.
I've never tasted these but they live vividly in my mother's memories of Christmas in Cuba. They are again, fried. This is getting a little embarrassing. And they are also dunked in a big jar of heavy syrup where they live happily soaking up sweetness until you are ready to serve them.
yuca con mojo
Oooooh yuca. Yuca or Casava in English is a root vegetable that could actually kill you if it's not prepared correctly. But it's so good we risk it ;) This version is boiled, shocked with ice then allowed to boil until tender. Then it's covered in mojo our go to garlicky condiment.
And, this my friends, is fried yuca. Look at all those little crispy tendrils.
Last, but definitely not least on this list is Lechón, or Roast suckling pig. Yep, We like the whole hog, head to tail, especially that crispy little curly tail.
Watch as these people taste Cuban food for the first time.
Did you notice a pattern here? Cubans like fried food. That is one of the beautiful things we owe to the African slaves that were brought to Cuba to work in the sugar plantations. They gave us our love of strange root vegetables (yams, casava, taro, plantains) and fried goodness. The African cultures brought over on the slave ships also gave us great music famous all over the world.
Cuban music ~ Música cubana
By mixing together the variety of rhythms from Africa and Europe, several musical genres develped in Cuba over time. These include, Son cubano, Danzón, Cha cha cha, Mambo, Salsa, Rumba, Conga to name a few. Learn more about Cuban music and enjoy the videos I've found for you below.