Cuban cuisine has been influenced by Spanish, French, African, Arabic, Chinese, and Portuguese cultures. Traditional Cuban cooking is primarily peasant cuisine that has little concern with measurements, order and timing. Most of the food is sautéed or slow-cooked over a low flame. 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. Many dishes use a sofrito as their basis. The sofrito consists of onion, green pepper, garlic, oregano, and ground pepper quick-fried in olive oil. The sofrito is usually what gives Cuban food its distinct flavor. It is used when cooking black beans, stews, many meat dishes, and tomato-based sauces. Meats and poultry are usually marinated in citrus juices, like lime or sour orange juices, and then roasted over low heat until the meat is tender and literally falling off the bone. Another common staple to the Cuban diet are root vegetables such as: yuca, malanga, and boniato, which can be found in most Latin markets. These vegetables are flavored with a marinade, called mojo, which includes hot olive oil, lemon juice, sliced raw onions, garlic, cumin, and little water.
A typical Cuban breakfast consists of a tostada and cafe con leche. The tostada is a portion of Cuban bread which is buttered then toasted on an electric grill. The cafe con leche is a combination of strong, espresso coffee with warm milk. Cubans break the tostada into pieces, and then dunk them into their cafe con leche. This would be the equivalent of Americans dunking their doughnuts into their coffee. Additionally, some may eat ham croquetas, smoky creamed ham shaped in finger rolls, lightly breaded, and then fried. For those on the run, with no time or desire to eat, a shot of cafe cubano, Cuban coffee, will be more than enough.
For your mid-day meal, lunch usually consists of empanadas, chicken or meat turnovers, or cuban sandwiches. A popular