What is 'Cocina Cubana', or Cuban kitchen cookery? It really cannot be described as either Caribbean, African, or Latin American but as a rich culinary mixture which developed from origins in four continents over many centuries. Initially, Cuba was in habited by Indian tribes who introduced to the island a wealth of rare tropical plants and numerous cooking skills, such as barbecue, preservation of meats, gardening, trapping game and catching fish.
Almost four thousand years later, Columbus and the Spanish colonists arrived and brought with them European foods and cookery methods. The Cuban climate and soil proved excellent for raising many Mediterranean culinary ingredients as well as New World fruits, vegetables, and spices cultivated by the island's original inhabitants. After the Spanish conquistadors decimated the Native population they imported African slave labor to tend and process sugar cane, the thriving island's leading crop. With them came a host of West African plants and a variety of tastes and cooking methods new to the Spanish.
Further adding to the cultural diversity, pirates of various nationalities settled in remote areas of Cuba. In 1762, the English occupied Cuba and converted Cuban cooking to their styles and preferences. In 1791, a slave uprising in nearby French Haiti drove thousands of French planters and their African slaves to seek refuge in Cuba. From the mid-19th century, numerous migrants arrived from the Spanish Canary islands. After the emancipation of Cuba in 1880 and the freeing of slaves, Cuban landowners and planters began importing large numbers of Chinese laborers to replace the slaves and build the railroad. The Chinese brought with them rice and a variety of Far Eastern spices and herbs previously unknown on the island.
Finally, in 1898, the United States controlled Cuba for a year and later in the 1920's many Americans migrated to the island subsequently introducing the tastes and cooking methods of the United States to complete the rich culinary mixture.
At Havana '59 we implement the tag line "A Revolution in Food" by fusing the cuisines of those cultures that inhabited Cuba. We hope that you have enjoyed this unique eclectic creation.