Food: Part One

This is part one of a series of posts that I will be doing about food in Cuba. All in all the cuisine in Cuba is pretty limited and based on what ingredients are available, depending on the region, the season, various shortages and so on. For example, over the summer we went about a month without eggs because there just weren’t any in our area of Santiago. I also enjoyed eating delicious sweet mangoes of all varieties over the summer but one day they just completely disappeared off the streets because their season ended. Then avocados and zapotes and guava fruits were popping up everywhere on the street. In Santiago it is especially hard to find vegetables like cabbage, tomatoes, and peppers because of the arid mountainous geography. As for Stateside staples like potatoes, just forget them. They’re pretty hard to come by. I had to quit being a vegan and become a vegetarian occasionally eating fish once I started living in Cuba for long periods because there is a lack of protein options and a lack of vegetables. I couldn’t stay healthy without having eggs, yogurt, or the powdered milk Noel puts in the batidos. In October we ate a lot of yuca and guineos, a type of banana meant for eating, not cooking. There were also a lot of limes for sale, which was good for making sweet lime juice to drink with ice and adding the peel to rice pudding for added flavor. There we also lots of zapotes (Mamey) for sale in the streets, of which we made shakes. It’s interesting because terms for foods vary by region: Occidental = Havana-side of Cuba and Oriental = Santiago-side. Other variations in addition to Mamey/Zapote are Fruta Bomba/Papaya, Tamal/Ayaca and Malanga/Guagui.

Cuban staples: Yuca, aguacate, guineo, limón
Zapote (or Mamey in Havana)