Culture

Here’s The Story About Ropa Vieja, The Most Delicious And Heavenly Food To Ever Come Out Of Latin America

There is nothing that is more quintessential to Cuban culture than ropa vieja. The dish is the national dish of Cuba and every Cuban family has their own recipe for this famous and popular meal. It can be served with rice and beans or rice and tostones or, really, anything because it is divine.

As part of the La Cocina series at we are mitú, Dariany Santana, the host of What’s Good In Your Hood, called her mom to learn how to make ropa vieja. It’s a sweet segment since Mother’s Day is right around the corner and, like all of us who moved away from home, Santana wants a little bit of home on Mother’s Day.

One of the most commonly told stories about ropa vieja is one of religion and miracle. The story goes that once upon a time in Spain, a poor man was struggling to feed his family. At the end of his rope, the man took his old clothes and put them in a pot with water and boiled the clothes. As the clothing cooked, the man prayed over the pot for food to sustain his family. What happened next is a miracle. The poor man opened the pot and where his clothes and water once were was a delicious and hearty meat stew. Ropa vieja translates to old clothes so the legend persists today about the most famous dish to call Cuba home.

The dish was created in Spain and historically the dish came to Cuba by way of Spanish conquistadors. More specifically, ropa vieja comes from the Canary Islands. When Spanish conquistadors started to settle in Latin America, they brought their favorite foods and items with them to feel at home far away from home.

Ever since ropa vieja became the national dish of Cuban, other variations have shown up throughout the Caribbean islands. Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic both have their own version of ropa vieja. The differences in the variations are slight but they include ingredients that are most common for those islands.

The dish lends itself nicely to a vegan variation. Since it is shredded beef, you can replace the meat with jack fruit. The pods around the seeds perfectly imitate the shredded fibers of flank steak. When you are cooking the jack fruit, you can use different cooking tools and lesser cooking time to achieve the same texture and consistency. Instead of adding the jack fruit to the sofrito that is cooking, you can keep them separate and let the jack fruit start to fall apart then top the jack fruit with the sofrito when you are plating it.

For any Cuban, the taste, smell, and sound of this dish is something that immediate transports them to their childhood. It is a way for Cubans to share the most intimate and important piece of their culture with those they love and care for. It is also a way for Cubans to feel connected to their family even if they are living thousands of miles away. For those who fled the island, it is a way to stay connected with a home they were forced to flee.

Ingredients:

Beef:

  • 2 pounds of flank steak
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • salt to taste

Sofrito:

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 6 sweet peppers of different colors, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 1 package of achiote powder
  • 2 cups of olives, cut in half, and some of the juice
  • 1/2 cup cooking wine
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil

Directions:

Ropa Vieja:

  • Cut flank steak into cubes that are an inch and a half.
  • Add steak, onion, garlic cloves, cilantro, green bell pepper, cumin, and salt in a  pressure cooker.
  • Add enough water to just cover the steak and cook for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, add garlic, onions, peppers, green pepper, onion, cumin, cilantro, bay leaf, and tomato sauce.
  • Simmer the sauce over the gentle heat until it starts to reduce by about a quarter and has a thick, soupy consistency.
  • Making sure the pressure cooker no longer has any pressure, remove the beef from the pressure cooker and add it to the sofrito.
  • Add the olives and cooking wine and cook for a few more minutes until all the ingredients are well incorporated.
  • Using two forks, shred the beef int eh sofrito and mix well so everything is combined.
  • Serve hot with a side of white rice and black beans.

READ: Here’s How Cuba’s Tumultuous History Forced A Cuban Diaspora That Changed The World

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In Cuba, Where Food Is Unreliable, Savvy Cooks Have Turned to Facebook to Share Recipes

Culture

In Cuba, Where Food Is Unreliable, Savvy Cooks Have Turned to Facebook to Share Recipes

Photo via Getty Images

COVID-19 hasn’t been easy for Cubans. Not only have Cubans been physically affected by the virus like the rest of the world, but the drop in the island’s gross domestic product has stymied local economic productivity. The island can no longer look to tourism to add to their GDP.

Because of this drop in GDP, food shortages on the island have become more severe than in recent memory. And Cuban cooks are feeling the effects.

Cubans must stand in line for hours at markets with no guarantees that the ingredients that they want will be available.

This way of living is especially hard for Cuban cooks, like 39-year-old Yuliet Colón. For Colón, cooking is both a creative expression and a stress reliever. “The kitchen is my happy place, where I am calmer and I feel better,” she recently revealed to the Associated Press.

Yuliet Colón is one of the creators of a Facebook page called Recetas del Corazón that has changed the cooking game for thousands of Cubans.

Now, thanks to Colón and other curious and generous Cuban cooks like her, Recipes from the Heart is now 12,000 members strong.

The goal of the page is to help struggling Cuban cooks cope with food shortages. Members of the page share creative recipes, tips, and food substitutions. Launched in June of 2020, the page was an instant success. Its success proves that Cubans have been desperate to find ways to adapt their cooking to the post-COVID-era.

To AP News, Yuliet Colón laments about the lack of rice, beans, cheese, fruit, and, most of all, eggs. “What I like the most is making desserts, but now it’s hard to get eggs, milk or flour,” she revealed.

The brightside is, however, that Cuban cooks are finally able to share food-related tips and tricks with each other on a much larger scale than they were before the internet became more widespread in the country.

Now that many Cubans have access to communication apps like Facebook and WhatsApp, they can now connect with one another and make the most of what they have–however little that may be.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

A Mexican Artist Is Making Pancake Art That’s Too Beautiful To Eat

Culture

A Mexican Artist Is Making Pancake Art That’s Too Beautiful To Eat

Social media is where people can show off just about anything they create. This includes art in any and all media, like pancake art. Claudia, the creator behind Nappan Pancake art, is the latest artist watching their art reach the masses.

Claudia, the artist behind Nappan Pancake art, got her start because of the pandemic.

@nappancakes

casi ✨1 año✨haciendo #pancakeart 🥞 #parati #foryou #viral #trend #glowup #art #foryoupage

♬ Inox la bggg – ᗰᗩᖇIE ᗰOI ᑎᗩᖇᑌTO

The artist first started to play around with pancake art last spring break when the pandemic forced businesses and schools to close. Claudia wanted to get more creative with her kids’ breakfasts since they were now always at home.

“I started experimenting with making Pancake art,” Claudia recalls to mitú. “At first I only used the color of the natural dough and a little cocoa. At first, I just used the ketchup dispensers and little by little I learned.”

Claudia uses her pancake art to honor some truly iconic people.

@nappancakes

Responder a @detodoun_poco233 Cepillín ✨🥞✨ en nuestros ♥️ #parati #fy #HijosAdopTiktoks #adoptiktoks #viral #foryou @cepillintv #pancakeart ncakeart

♬ La Feria de Cepillin – Cepillín

Cepillín recently died and the loss was felt throughout the community. He made our lives joyous and fun with his music, especially his birthday song. Some of the creations are done for fans who request to see their faves turned into delicious pancake art.

The artist loves creating the edible works of art.

The journey of becoming a pancake artist has been a fun adventure for Claudia and her children. The more she has practiced, the more she has been able to do.

“Sometimes I scream with excitement and I go to all the members of my house to see it,” Claudia says about her successes. “Other times it’s just a feeling like “disappointment could be better” other times it just breaks or burns and then I just cry but it usually feels very satisfying.”

You can check out all of her creations on TikTok.

@nappancakes

Responder a @reyna100804santoyo siii🥞✨ díganle que me adopte 🥺 @ederbez #adoptiktoks #hijosadoptiktoks #parati #foryou #viral #fy #art #pancakeart

♬ Little Bitty Pretty One – Thurston Harris

With 350,000 followers and growing, it won’t be long until more people start to fully enjoy Claudia’s art. Her children can’t get enough of it and she is so excited to share it with the rest of the world.

READ: Spicy Food Lovers Have Reason To Celebrate As New Study Says Eating Chilies Could Be Secret To Longevity

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