Cuba Culture and Food

Typical Cuba?!

What is typical of Cuba and the Cubans?

Sugar cane and tobacco

Sugar and cigars are Cuba’s two main exports. So they are being sold abroad, making money for the country. And so you will find a lot of fields in Cuba on which sugar cane or tobacco grow. Worldwide, the small Cuba even has the second largest cultivation area for tobacco (after Greece). At the same time, however, the farmers also generate the world’s lowest yield per area… Nevertheless: Cuba’s cigars are valued worldwide and sold at high prices. In factories, workers roll tobacco into cigars.

Doctors from Cuba

Cuba’s doctors are highly trained and are sent all over the world when help is needed. This was for example in the Ebola – epidemic the case in West Africa. Doctors were also sent out during the corona crisis, for example to Italy. Cuba’s doctors also help in particularly poor countries. There are six doctors for every 1000 inhabitants in Cuba, in Germany there are only four.

Medical research is also considered excellent. Vaccines against several diseases were one of the first to be developed in Cuba. Cuba continues to produce large numbers of vaccines and other medical products. By the way, every Cuban has the right to free medical treatment and care.

Guantanamera and a hit album

Music from Cuba has made it world famous. Maybe you know the song ” Guantanamera “? The text is based on a poem by the Cuban poet José Martí. Josaíto Fernández set it to music. The Guantanamera is a girl from Guantánamo in the east of Cuba. The chorus of the song is called Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera. This can mean both a Guajira song from Guantánamo and a peasant woman from Guantánamo.

By the way, music from Cuba was number 1 in the German charts for 150 weeks. Several musicians recorded the album together in 1996 and named it Buena Vista Social Club after a former cultural association in Havana. The music dates from the 1940s and 1950s and the style of music is called Son and is a major direction in Cuban music.

The revolution – omnipresent

Everywhere in Cuba the revolution of 1959, which overthrew the dictator Batista and which turned Cuba into a socialist state, is omnipresent. Paintings show Che Guevara, one of the leaders of the revolution. Fidel Castro, the long-time head of state, can be seen in pictures or “Viva Fidel” (Long live Fidel) is written on house facades. National flags hang everywhere anyway.

Antique car

The classic cars are particularly typical of Cuba and unique in the world. The old Fords, Chevrolets and Buicks that roll through Havana shine in turquoise, red or yellow. Old US classic cars from the 1950s shape the image of the city. But not only there you can see Plymouth and Cadillacs, but all over Cuba.

How come With the Cuban Revolution of 1959, cars from abroad were no longer allowed to be brought to Cuba. At most, new cars came from the Eastern Bloc countries, but they mostly remained in the possession of state officials. The cars, which were already in Cuba before, were now looked after and cared for, repaired and polished.

Cuba Culture

Eating in Cuba

What do the Cubans eat?

Spanish, Caribbean and African – this is how it tastes in Cuba! Recipes, spices and ingredients from these three regions are mixed up in Cuban cuisine. The staple foods include beans and rice, which are particularly popular together, either as a side dish or as a dish with meat or as a stew. Cassava, plantains, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and avocados are also popular.

Beans and rice

In Cuba, beans and rice are often combined to make congrí. To do this, you cook the rice and red beans in a special sauce, the Sofrito sauce. It is made from onions, garlic, other spices and possibly tomatoes or root vegetables. You can find a recipe in the participation tip !

Together with black beans, the food is called Moros y Cristianos (Moors and Christians). Ropa vieja is the name of a dish because the meat crumbles like “old clothes” when cooked. Ingredients are soup meat with tomato sauce, black beans, yellow rice, plantains and fried cassava.

Tortillas, empanadas and tamales

These three are popular not only in Cuba, but throughout Latin America: tortillas, empanadas and tamales. Tortillas are flat corn cakes. You can fill it. When filled and closed, they become empanadas. Corn dough cooked in corn leaves is turned into tamales with other ingredients.

Cuban sandwich

The sandwich, on the other hand, is particularly typical of Cuba. Cuban bread is used as bread, an elongated loaf of bread that is baked with lard and more water than usual. The sandwich is filled in many different ways, traditionally it includes pork, ham, cheese, pickles and mustard. So it comes between grill plates, where it is grilled and pressed. This is called a la plancha. There are also sandwiches with egg or with suckling pig or one called “Elena Ruz”: it was served to a young lady with this name in the 1930s and contains processed cheese, turkey breast and strawberry jam. Sounds interesting anyway!