Cuban culture is very food heavy. From the delectable dish called ropa vieja to the delicious and mouth-watering moros. Since food is one of the most important parts of Cuban culture, it makes sense that we’d spend a lot of time in the kitchen. It also makes sense that some of the most iconic things we think of about our childhoods has to do with the kitchen. Here are 15 things you are guaranteed to find in a Cuban kitchen.
1. An old, beat up pressure cooker that is used to cook everything.
Legit, this thing looks so old that you think your abuela snuck it out of Cuba and even at 5 years old you questioned the safety of cooking with this thing. However, those moros always came out bomb af. 😋
2. The fly swatter.
We all know it. We’ve all seen it. It was always the same fly swatter that hung there near the kitchen sink and was rarely used to discipline the flies. It was used to discipline you instead.
3. Mojo by 👏🏽 the 👏🏽 gallon. 👏🏽
Nothing made you more excited as a little Cuban kid than coming home (or going to abuela’s) and smelling the strong and distinct scent of this garlic, citrus marinade washing over all of your senses. To this day you probably have a gallon or two in the pantry and you put this stuff on everything.
4. More Jupiña sodas than you’d need to satisfy the army.
These were crack and we could never say no to them, especially on a hot summer day while listening to salsa music in the kitchen.
5. Guava paste for days.
This was something that was always stock-piled if you were a Cuban living outside of Miami because it was not easy to come by. It was so precious that when you did manage to find some, you’d clear out the shelf and hide it in the pantry.
*Note: This is actual footage from my present-day kitchen.
6. First Communion photos on the fridge.
Doesn’t matter if it was one month ago or 30 years ago. Mami y abuelita love showing all of their friends how preciosa you were when you took First Communion.
7. Keebler Export soda crackers and the big green tin that lived on the counter.
It lived on the counter because it was so bulky and big that it literally didn’t fit anywhere else in the house. But that was fine because you and your hermanos would clear a tin in two days tops. And, yes, they had to be Keebler or else they were trash.
And all those empty containers quickly became Tupperware for all the bulk items that needed storage like rice or beans.
And sometimes they would just be used to hold precious muñecas from your childhood that mami just couldn’t bear getting rid of.
8. You’d always see some freshly washed Ziploc bags drying out in the sink.
It wasn’t because you were #goingbroke, your family just believed in not wasting things that can be used again. Don’t lie. You’ve done this.
9. Random bottles of pickled fruits and vegetables that you were never going to eat.
To this day, I have no idea who created this little fade and how long it’ll last. One thing was for sure, though. These were strictly decoration and they would be cycled out every year for the “newer” models.
10. An old-school cafetera that lived on the stove.
Much like the Mexican comal, this bad boy never left the stove unless it was either serving you cafecito or being washed.
11. Black beans on black beans on black beans.
It was never really clear if abuela just forgot that she already had 30 bags of black beans before going to the store or if she was preparing for a national state of emergency. Either way, she is the only person in the family that knows how to properly season the beans. It’s like she had some special santeria that made them taste so good.
12. There was always a map of Cuba.
Why? Who knows, but by the time you were 7 years old you knew the exact shape of the motherland.
13. A bowl of fake fruit that usually hung out on the kitchen counter.
It is a fact that the trust issue of many Cuban children stems from the first time they took a bit of an apple only to get a mouthful of wax or styrofoam. Then they’d get yelled at for trying to eat it. Who does that?
14. Pik-Nik shoestring potatoes were always on deck in case you got a hankering for salt.
You ate so many of these as a kid that you can still smell the cardboard used to make the packaging. Tbh, you just thought about buying some more right now.
15. A radio that blasts Celia Cruz all day and night because, why not?!
Only the queen of salsa can get a Cuban grooving and jiving in the kitchen. 💯