The Cuban Kitchen
Cuban food is not intensely spiced but rather it tends to be delicately flavored. Cuban cuisine is not complicated by a myriad of cooking techniques and intricate sauces. Most of the recipes are slow cook numbers and little of it is ever fried. Sure Cuban food shares recipes with the other countries, great recipes like Paella, flan, et al, but for the most part it is uniquely Cocina Cubana!
Cuba is a West Caribbean island which has a rich cultural heritage with vibrant and varied culinary traditions from a variety of cultures that have contributed to the culinary development of this very distinct and delicious style of Cuban cuisine. Spaniards brought their own culinary styles to Cuba along with the Moors culinary style, because the Moors held large parts of Spain for centuries and these culinary styles infused with ancient influence of the native peoples of Cuba produced Cuban cuisine. Other groups of people that made significant culinary and cultural contributions to Cuban cuisine were the slaves brought in from Africa and French colonists fleeing uprisings in Haiti. Read more about the origins of Cuban Cooking
Cuban Food in the Queen's home!
Like a character in a fairy tale, Elio Gutierrez, a young man who left Cuba as a five year old during the Mariel boatlift, is now cooking boliche, tostones and black beans & rice in a castle — for the British Royal Family.
Turns out the royals have a real desire for Cuban food. The Queen likes her tostones and malanga soup, Prince Philip likes brain fritters, Charles likes platanos en tentacion and congri with pork crackling, and Camilla likes arroz con pollo. The princes like sweets — like buñuelos, boniatillo and flan.
Elio’s culinary journey began while working at a restaurant in London. One day, in walked the Duke of Rutherford-Leigh, who ordered ropa vieja, congri and yuca frita. Apparently, the Duke was taken by what he thought was exotic, new and delicious food. After a year and numerous Cuban meals with friends and guests at the restaurant, the Duke helped Elio apply for a position as a master chef at Buckingham Palace.
Prior to being offered the job, he was asked to prepare a typical Cuban menu, not an easy feat considering that the ingredients necessary were not to be found anywhere in England. So Elio called his brother (who has an import-export company in Miami) with an enormous list of produce, legumes and spices to be flown the next day via British Airways to London.
He quickly created a vast menu of delicious Cuban fare and was contracted on the spot. Elio now creates a Cuban meal every other week for the royals and their guests (Elton John and President Obama among them) who are enthralled by the culinary diversity he has brought to Buckingham Palace.
Elio is more than an ambassador of culture and Cuban food to the British court — in him we see ourselves, and how far we can go when we set our heart and mind on being the best at what we do. He was once called “escoria” (scum) by the Cuban government’s gangs of political thugs, as he walked to the port of Mariel and a life of freedom and opportunity. But now, he’s looked upon as royalty among his peers.