Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cuban Dishes

Here's a tidbit about 19th Century Cuban meals. For ten years I lived in South Florida where my family and I were exposed to Cuban cooking, among other ethnic dishes. So, I thought it might be fun to share this tidbit about Cuban food.

As the service of the table, in most of the cities, at all the hotels, and many of the best private houses partakes of the nature of French cooking, it is only in the rural parts one can see the bona fide Cuban dishes.
The daily meals of the more humble farmers consist of fried pork and boiled rice in the morning, and, in lieu of bread, the roasted plantain. At dinner, they make use of cow-beef, jerked beef, birds, and roasted pig; but usually this meal consists of roasted plantains, and the national dish of ajiaco, or what we should call an Irish stew. This dish is to the island what olla podrida is to Spain. It is composed of fresh meat, either beef or pork, — dried meat of either,—all sorts of vegetables, young corn, and green plantains. It is made with plenty of broth, thickened with a farinaceous root known as malanga, and has also some lemon-juice squeezed into it. It is, I assure the reader, toothsome, cheap, and nutritious,— quite equal to the French pot an feu. Boiled rice is never dispensed with at any meal, and the cooking of it is understood to perfection. It is used mixed in all their stews, or with a simple sauce of tomatoes. El aporreado is made of half raw meat, dressed with water, vineger, salt, etc., which operation is known as perdigar (or stewing in an earthen pan); then mashed and stirred together, it is fried slightly in a sauce {mojo) of lard, tomatoes, garlic, onions, and peppers. Picadillos, or hashes, are always good upon the island,— town or country,— even if one does not know who made them. The tasajo brujo, or jerked beef bewitched, so called from the fact that it grows so much larger in cooking, is the dish found almost everywhere, and cooked in many ways. It is almost always a savory dish the traveler need not be afraid of, particularly if he has had army experience. There are some other dishes, but with the knowledge of the above, the stranger will be safe to accept an invitation toO dine with any of the haciendados, and it will also be seen that Cuban cookery is not such a fearful thing as we have been led to believe; for little or no oil is used, and the small quantity of garlic used is so disguised in other things that few people could tell it.
Source: Cuba with Pen and Pencil ©1871

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