Bring on the mojitos!!!!! Cuba is the land of rum, cigars and communism. The best thing about travelling to Cuba for me is that it remains an uncluttered and "real" paradise. You will find no McDonalds commercialism here and you can still buy souvenirs for under $10. Cuba has survived more than 40 years of US sanctions intended to topple the government of Fidel Castro. It also defied predictions that it would not survive the collapse of its one-time supporter, the Soviet Union. It's people are survivors and the country offers its own brand of flavour and beauty.
Cuba is a spectacular country, with beautiful and very warm loving people. Most tourists will go to the all inclusive resort areas such as Varadero, Jardines del Rey (Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo) or Holguin. My best advice to you as always is to travel around the country, stay in a Casa Particular, where you will be a guest in a Cuban family's home. Have dinner in the Paladares, small private restaurants, and talk to the Cuban people, mingle with the locals and see how they live. Brush up on your Spanish!!!!
Cuban cuisine has been influenced by Spanish, French, African, Arabic, Chinese, and Portuguese cultures. Very little is deep-fried and there are no heavy or creamy sauces. Most Cuban cooking relies on a few basic spices, such as garlic, cumin, oregano, and bay laurel leaves.
So what do I personally think of when Cuba comes to mind (besides bringing home my allotment of cigars and hitching a ride in a 1950's car with smoke pouring out the back end)?
I enjoyed this description. " A Cuban Sandwich, sometimes called a cubano, is a Latin variation on a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. This undeniably delicious sandwich is grilled and made with ham, pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard and Cuban bread. The essential ingredient is the roasted pork. When assembled, the sandwich is lightly toasted in a sandwich press called a plancha, which is only somewhat similar to a panini press but without grooved surfaces. A traditional Cuban sandwich is never made with a panini grill. The plancha both heats and compresses the sandwich, which remains in the press until the bread is crispy and the cheese is melted. It is usually cut into diagonal halves before serving."
4 hoagie rolls (oreferably Cuban rolls if you can find them)
2 T yellow mustard
1/4 pound baked ham, thinly sliced
1/4 pound roast pork, thinly sliced
1/4 pound provolone cheese, thinly sliced
10 thin dill pickle slices, approximately 2 whole pickles
1 T unsalted butter, room temperature
Slice the bread horizontally in half, leaving 1 edge intact. Lay the bread open and spread each side with the mustard. Divide the ingredients evenly among the slices of roll. Start with the ham followed by the pork, cheese, and dill pickles. Bring the tops and bottoms together.
Heat your panini maker or sandwich press. Butter each side of the press. Place the sandwiches inside, press down and grill until the cheese is melted and the bread is flat and browned, approximately 10 minutes. If you don't have a sandwich press, you can heat 6 fireplace bricks wrapped in foil, in a 500 degrees F oven for 1 hour and then press the sandwich between them for 10 minutes. Serve warm.
1/2 kilogram malanga or yam
Grate the malanga or yam and blend with the rest of the ingredients.