Cuban cuisine is influenced by a variety of cultures, says Danielle Rosario of the University of Miami. Cuban recipes combine French, African, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and Portuguese cooking techniques and rely on a variety of spices. Most dishes are slow-cooked over low heat rather than deep-fried or slathered in creamy sauces, reports Rosario. Common spices found in Cuban meals include cumin, garlic and oregano, and meats are often marinated in citrus-based sauces. According to MyCubaVisit.com, traditional Cuban food is increasing in popularity and can be found in many restaurants throughout the United States.
Croquetas are ham, chicken, beef or fish rolled in flour or mashed potatoes, then lightly fried. The result is a light and crunchy roll usually eaten for lunch or dinner.
Variations of buñuelos are found all over Latin America. In Cuba, a dough made from yuca and malanga is twisted into a figure-8 shape and then lightly fried. The fried dough is covered with an anise-flavored glaze just prior to serving.
Traditional Mexican tamales are a corn-based dough filled with meat and cheese wrapped in corn husks. In Cuba, the basic recipe remains the same except Cubans choose to omit the traditional hot chili seasoning.
Cuban tostones are made by frying green plantains and then flattening them. Tostones are often served as an appetizer accompanied by a garlic dipping sauce.
Picadillo is a simple Latin American dish that is made with ground meat and other ingredients that vary from country to country. In Cuba, picadillo is made with ground beef, tomatoes and olives and is usually served along with black beans and rice.