August 17, 2007

About Arroz y Frijoles

Filed under: — admin @ 6:11 pm

Is Cuban food the best food? The answer is yes. Why is not important, it’s just something you realize once you’ve not eaten it for a while. You might think you feel the same way about the food from where you’re from but seriously, would it really be better than a thin cuban palomilla steak, white rice, black beans and platanitos? Maybe, but only if you substitute vaca frita for the palomilla.

I’ve spent the past 8 years learning about food and cooking, a lot. Initially, it was because I just really wanted some good Cuban food and no restaurant in the greater Bay Area could deliver on that. I never understood it, and it seems crazy, but that’s the topic of another post.

As a first generation Cuban-American growing up in Miami, 90% of my meals were Cuban food. The other 10% were hamburgers (also in the “last meals” hall of fame). I didn’t realize it at the the time, but Mami, Tia, Adoracion, Jorge and Azalia (just to name a notable few) were serving up some delish-a-frickin-licious food. I didn’t know enough about food to know why it was tasty–but I do now.

After hundreds of pounds of beef, pork, chicken, beans, rice and plantains I feel that I understand these dishes profoundly. Profoundly enough to write about their makeup and inspiration that might arise from making, sharing and eating them.

The editor enjoys a *cold* cafe con leche in the Honduran early morning style. Cousin Ruben has been rockin these since the early 80’s. Take that, frapuccino hipsters!



  1. I totally understand. I grew up in Miami too and lived there for most of my life. Now I live in Texas and the only place to find Cuban food is at my house! Or on visits to Miami twice a year (my grandma made one wicked pulpetta when I was there last!). Anywho… Love the blog keep on cooking!

    Comment by Roxanne — August 27, 2008 @ 3:29 pm

  2. I am hispanic and never appreciated the food when I was young. I guess we just took it for granted and figured everyone else was eating the same thing… NOT! Now that I’m grown I do love my ethnicity for its food amongst so many other things… One co-worker even asked me if “I ate rice and beans for lunch” as a child. I could have taken offense for this most racist comment… but that also came from someone who eats squirrel, therefore, I chose to think I’ve been eating better than most on an every day basis since I was able to eat table food… and I don’t even need to eat out… my mom lives right down the block from me… so stick that in your shotgun and blow it!

    Comment by Cynthia — November 12, 2008 @ 12:41 pm

  3. The nice part about eating squirrel is that it comes with a free hat!

    Comment by Jose — November 12, 2008 @ 1:17 pm

  4. A camo one I’m sure…

    Comment by Cynthia — November 12, 2008 @ 2:40 pm

  5. I just wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed perusing your recipes and the commentary that goes along with them. I’m a second generation Cuban, who grew up eating mostly Cuban food because it was cheaper to cook than most other stuff lol. I was very surprised that I didn’t see a recipe for Ropa Vieja on here, which is a staple of my diet.

    Comment by Jen — February 14, 2009 @ 9:55 pm

  6. Oh, I lied. First generation Cuban, American father Cuban mother grew up in CT (odd I know).

    Comment by Jen — February 14, 2009 @ 10:06 pm

  7. Jen – Thanks for the props, I’ll add ropa vieja one of these days 😉

    Comment by Jose — February 15, 2009 @ 2:39 am

  8. Cuban food is not always “the best,” but it is one of my top 3.

    Comment by Mimi — August 28, 2009 @ 1:58 pm

  9. This website has become my Cuban cooking bible. As a Miami native going to college in the south, I have used your recipes to explain to my southern friends the deliciousness of Cuban food. Thanks so much for keeping it alive! !Que se la tradicion!

    Comment by Nikki — October 14, 2009 @ 7:59 pm

  10. Wow Nikki, ur bible huh? Thanks! If there’s one thing we have in common with the American South is pork products and our love for them. Y’all heard?

    Comment by Jose — October 14, 2009 @ 10:27 pm

  11. Lechón! That must be why this Georgia boy loves Cuban food so much.

    I’ve learned to make Ropa Vieja this month. I was shown by two women. The first was a lovely Cuban mother who taught me the way it is made in the Santiago de Cuba area. The other was a gringa married to a Cubano from a town south of Havana. According to Orlando’s mother, Debbie’s Ropa Vieja is 100% authentic for her area.

    I’ve made it once already. 40 minutes in a pressure cooker makes the Flank steak shred very well. The only thing I have to change next time is to cook the onions less and the peppers more.

    Would like to see your recipe.

    Comment by Steve — October 26, 2009 @ 6:12 pm

  12. Hey Jose,
    Was great seeing you again after such a long time.
    This lady was really famous while I was growing up for her cooking shows and recipes:

    My mom always recommends her books to anyone looking for Cuban food recipes.

    Keep in touch primo.

    Comment by PCG — December 19, 2009 @ 1:45 pm

  13. Found you when googling “cuban food prosciutto” to explain the abundant use of the latter at a great Latin “fusion” cafe in Minneapolis (Cafe Ena). Pleased to find not only your excellent description of Jamon Iberico, but snappy, expert prose and boatloats of good information. A pleasure for a Norwegian-American to find your blog on a chilly Monday morning.

    Comment by dianereally — March 22, 2010 @ 5:21 am

  14. Hi there,
    I ran across your site today in my prep for camarones enchilados-fest tomorrow. I’ve compared about 12 recipes – ranging from Villapol’s to Shrimp Creole from Houma, LA. Amazing how our blend of African, French and Spanish goodness has enriched the world… anyway, most of the Lousianna recipes call for the broth, but no “caldo” in recetas cubanas, what a shame! I was glad to see you incorporate it in yours. I’ll try the Cognac tric and see how it goes.
    We’ll hit the camarones with rice (hitachi don’t fail me!) and tostones and ensalada de aquacate. Will let you know how it all went down.

    Comment by Robert Jimenez — December 10, 2010 @ 12:44 pm

  15. oye, chico –

    ya estamos en Diciembre….

    so what’s cooking for Noche Buena?

    Comment by the cuban cracker — December 10, 2011 @ 2:21 pm

  16. […] beans and rice) or “moros” (for black beans and rice). When cooked apart, the dish is called “arroz y frijoles” or simply rice and […]

    Pingback by Lost in Havana (Part 2) | Caribbean Travel Guides — January 27, 2012 @ 5:03 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Freely hosted by Your Clicks. Powered by WordPress. Theme by H P Nadig