The State of Florida has the largest Cuban population in the United States. Consequently, there’s a Cuban restaurant on nearly every corner. But Cuban or not, everyone enjoys a little spice and the aroma of a good Sofrito, especially if prepared by someone else’s hand. A dinner out on the town and a visit outside of one’s own culture provide a very satisfying mini vacation!
The Make-Up of Cuban Cuisine
Cuban cuisine is a blend of Spanish, African and Caribbean foods. Most Cuban dishes are loaded with slow roasted or sautéed vegetables. Oregano, garlic, cumin and bay leaves are the most common spices used. The “Sofrito” is a sort of “base” like fried rice is for Chinese cuisine. It is usually made with green peppers, onions, oregano, and garlic and is fried in olive oil. Meat in Cuban dishes is often marinated in citrus juices for a sweet and tangy flavor and then roasted to tender perfection.
A Brief Shot of Cuban Culinary History
If you know anything about the history of Cuban food in Florida, you know that there is a lot more going on in the Cuban restaurant culture than just the menu. For years one of the hottest cultural feuds in Florida was a little conflict known as the Cuban Sandwich War. The Cuban Sandwich started popping up on menus around the turn of the 20th century. The feud, as it has been chronicled for years, is that in Miami, The Cuban sandwich is pressed, sort of like a panini. In Tampa, it is not pressed. But leave it up to the Cubans to start a war over a sandwich! That is part of the allure of the cuisine, that the people have a rich and saucy history!
Cuban restaurants are abundant in Florida, but the new trend in Cuban foods is catering. Weddings, reunions, birthday parties and other special events that are traditionally catered are now beginning to go Cuban more and more. Perhaps it is the savory aroma of the slow roasted vegetables and fruit flavored meats that attracts event planners to this unique cuisine. Aromas add an element to a venue that decorations and music cannot.
If you live in Florida, chances are that you are going to have many guests of Cuban descent at your event. Why not go all out and provide some Cuban decor and music to go with it? How about a little Copa Cabana to go with your relatives from Little Havana?
If you would like to learn more about a local Cuban restaurant or Cuban catering in Florida, visit Mamboscubancafe.com or call (904) 374-2046.