Food, Clothing & Medical Care

 

WHAT IS TYPICAL CUBAN FOOD?

  • As a result of the colonization of Cuba by Spain, it remains one of the main influences on the Cuban cuisine. Along with Spain, other culinary influences include Africa, from the Africans that were brought to Cuba as slaves, and French, from the French colonists that came to Cuba from Haiti.  Another important factor is that Cuba itself is an island, making seafood something that greatly influences Cuban cuisine.

  • 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.  Cuban food is NOT spicy (hot).

  • Meats and poultry are usually marinated in citrus juices, such as 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 asyuca, malanga and boniato.  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 café con leche.  The tostada is a portion of Cuban bread which is buttered then toasted on an electric grill.  The café con leche is a combination of strong, espresso coffee with warm milk.  Cubans break the tostada into pieces, then drunk them into the café con leche, as Americans would dunk their doughnuts into their coffee.  Additionally some may eat ham croquetas, smoky creamed ham shaped in finger rolls, lightly breaded, and then fried.  And don’t forget café cubano, Cuban coffee.  It will revive the dead.

  • Lunch consists of empanadas, chicken or meat turnover, or Cuban sandwiches.  The sandwich could be a media noche (midnight sandwich), consisting of a slice of pork, ham and swiss cheese and then topped with pickles and mustard on sweetened egg bread.  The pan con bistec is a thin slice of palomilla steak on Cuban bread garnished with lettuce, tomatoes, and fried potato sticks.  One may also order a side of mariquitas, thinly sliced plantain chips, to accompany their hearty sandwich.

  • Dinner will usually consist of a meat, chicken or fish dish as the entrée, accompanied by white rice, black beans, and maduros, (sweet fried plantains).  At times, a small salad of sliced tomatoes and onions or avocados might be added to the meal.  The meal is followed by dessert, such as the typical flan, a Cuban caramel-flavored custard, and another shot of café cubano.  Other equally popular alternatives for dessert are bread or rice puddings.

  • Most recently private dining establishments (paladares) have opened throughout the island, with more than 600 in Havana.  Remember Cuba will make reservations at the best restaurants in the city for your lunches and dinners and prices are usually between 7-15 CUCs ($8-18) not including beverages.

SOURCE:  Danielle Rosario

 

WHAT IS THE DRESS CODE?

  • You will find that Cubans dress casually and when in Cuba, you’ll want to dress as the Cubans do!  Most importantly leave your expensive jewelry at home. 

  • Just like at home, jeans are acceptable at most places.

  • In the evenings, women tend to dress up a bit.  Cocktail attire isn’t necessary; a nice sundress will be fine.

  • It’s a good idea to take a sweater or wrap when you go out at night, as evenings are sometimes cool.

  • Men should wear long pants, as you may find that some restaurants will not allow you to enter wearing shorts. 

  • Comfortable shoes are important as we will be doing a lot of walking and the roads and sidewalks are often uneven.

  • In respect, it’s important to cover your shoulders when visiting religious sites.

 

WHAT KIND OF MEDICAL CARE CAN WE EXPECT?              

Cuban doctors are known throughout Latin America as the best trained doctors in the region. However, they do lack many of the bare necessities that we expect. "Tourist Pharmacies" DO stock many prescription drugs. Nevertheless, it is advisable to pack antibiotics, aspirin, band-aids, anything you may need for personal hygiene, etc. just in case. Besides, they make great gifts for the Cubans when you leave.  

If there is a medical emergency, you will be treated at Cira Garcia, a state-of-the-art medical facility reserved for tourists and high ranking government officials.