What's the food like in Cuba?
In Cuba most dishes consist of beans and rice with chicken or pork. Black beans and rice is the national staple and is referred to as “congri” or “moros” or “moros y cristianos”. Beef is rarely found in non-government restaurants as cows in Cuba are owned by the government. Food can be plain at times as spice is generally avoided in the kitchen, so it is not a bad idea to bring your own condiments if you're a fan of flavour.
Possibly the most famous Cuban dish, and one that has made its way across the water and into the USA, is the Cuban sandwich. This monster meal is filled with pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard on Cuban bread. Ropa Vieja (literally meaning old clothes) is another popular dish and consists of shredded steak or some other kind of meat in a rich sauce, served over rice or with tortillas and vegetables. Often meals are accompanied by yucca (cassava) covered in oil and garlic.
With sugarcane being the main export of Cuba, there is a range of delicious sweet treats on offer all over the country. Cocos, made from shredded coconut and brown sugar, are a common find in Cuba and sponge cake is so coveted by the population that the state actually gives them, free of charge, to children on their birthdays until they turn 15.
The main tipple of the island is rum and this can be found in all different manifestations. The international sensation that is the mojito finds its roots here as does the Cuba Libre. In addition to cocktails, visitors to Cuba will find lager in abundance, particularly Cristal.
Safe eating while travelling in Cuba
Eateries in Cuba tend to be divided in to national peso and convertible peso restaurants. The national peso variety caters predominantly for Cubans and as such the food is a lot cheaper but also a lot more variable in quality. Sticking to convertible peso restaurants generally ensures better food. Paladars - restaurants that have been set up in people’s homes - are also a good dining option as the food is home-cooked to order. As always, use your common sense when eating food - if it looks old or like it has been sitting out in the sun for a while then don’t eat it.