I‘m a fan of the sweet science so have frequently read about the proud and prolific Cuban boxing tradition. Since the 1960s, Cuba has routinely produced iconic champions such as Félix Savón, Teófilo Stevenson, Jose Napoles, Guillermo Rigondeaux, and Yuriorkis Gamboa.
What always struck me when reviewing that list was how varied and diverse their surnames were. Savón, Stevenson, Casamayor, Rigondeaux, Lara. Those are all native Cuban bynames?
If Cuba sounds like some big melting pot, it’s because it is. Their cultural diversity came from an influx of immigrants in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, from Spain, France, the Netherlands, and Africa, just to name a few.
This ethnic collectivity helped mold the Cuba of today – a multicultural nation whose diversity has manifested itself not only in its demographics, but also in its architecture, its music, and of course, its delectable cuisine.
*In English, the recipe title translates to “Fried Pork Chunks with Black Beans and Fried Plantains.”
A passionate, culturally diverse plate of food
While looking at this, I can almost hear Cuban jazz music playing in the background. Anyone care to Cha-cha-cha? 🙂
Masas de puerco fritas (fried pork chunks)
Frijoles negros (black beans)
Platanos maduros (fried plantains)
Masas de Puerco Fritas
- 1 kilo or 2-1/2 lb. fresh pork loin or country style pork ribs
- 12 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1/2 cup sour orange juice (or 1/4 cup orange & 1/4 cup lime juice)
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup pure olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 fresh onion sliced into rings
- Lime wedges
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp cumin
- Cut pork into 2″ chunks.
- Prepare marinade by mixing together garlic, chopped onion, orange juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, oregano, cumin and salt. Pour over pork chunks and marinate for at least 3 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
- Remove meat from marinade. Place in pot with two cups of water and 1/2 cup olive oil. Simmer uncovered for 30-45 minutes until all water boils away.
- Brown pork in oil until crisp on the outside. Do not overcook! Add onion slices and saute briefly.
- Serve with black beans, rice and fried plantains. (recipe below)
- 2 (10 ounce) cans black beans, liquid drained and reserved
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- Fry onion and pepper in a little oil, then add garlic and saute briefly.
- Introduce a little of the bean liquid until all previous ingredients are soft. Add beans with the remaining liquid.
- Add spices and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes. Add vinegar just before serving.
- 3 very ripe plantains (heavy black spotting to a fully black skin)
- Lard, vegetable shortening, or oil to cover half the thickness of plantains
- Peel and bias cut (diagonally) into one-inch thick slices. Heat oil until medium hot. (a drop of water will sizzle)
- Fry pieces for about a minute or two per side. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking, turning occasionally until brown and caramelized.
VARIATION: If you like, you can lightly roll plantains in white or brown sugar before frying.
DID YOU KNOW?
That Cuban food is a fusion of Spanish, African, Dutch and Caribbean cuisines?
Because of Spain’s colonization of Cuba, one of the main influences on Cuban cuisine came from Spain. Other culinary influences include Africa, from the Africans that were brought to Cuba as slaves, and Dutch, from the French colonists that came to Cuba from Haiti. A small, but noteworthy, Chinese influence can also be accounted for, mainly in the Havana area.
With Cuba’s natural supply of seafood and tropical ingredients, the end result is a unique, colorful blend of several different cultural influences.
JB and Renée are the Traveleaters behind Will Fly for Food, a travel blog for the gastronomically inclined. They enjoy experiencing food from different cultures so they’ve made it their mission to try every country’s national dish. Read more about them and their National Dish Quest here.