These Smells Will Instantly Transport You Back To Your Cuban Childhood

There are some aromas that stay with you for life. These scents will take you back and remind you what it was like growing up in a Cuban home.

1. Abuelita’s mouth-watering frijoles negros.

CREDIT: hilditaperez / Instagram

Somehow her beans were never bland, perfectly cooked, and the greatest surprise after a long day. I’m still not entirely sure what she put in her beans, but I could never stop at the third serving and the smell was so… yummm ?.

2. Quenepas by the f*cking pound, bro.

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It’s not just the smell of the delicious flesh inside the fruit. There is just something about smelling the burlap sack they came in when dad would buy it in bulk at the mercado. No matter how many you eat, cracking open a new one always let out the most heavenly smell.

3. Pan Cubano con mantequilla straight off the press.

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You know what I’m talking about. The bread is hard and warm with some butter still pouring out when you dunk it in your coffee. The smell of toasted bread with butter on top will always transport you straight to abuela’s kitchen.

4. The sweet and buttery aroma of guava pastelitos.

CREDIT: breadmanmiamibakery / Instagram

If you’ve never enjoyed one of these babies, you are seriously missing out. If just guava seems like it might be too sweet for you, try one with queso. Hell, just spend the day at the bakery trying to fill yourself up on pastelito after pastelito. The smell of that buttery, flaky crust will stay with you long after you leave.

5. The smell of abuelita’s house a.k.a. lavender Fabuloso.

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Maybe your grandmother used a different scent of Fabuloso. Regardless, you know just how important and relevant this scent was for a Cuban household. This smell still makes me feel right at home.

6. The strong, familiar scent of Certs mints.

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Me: Abuelo, quiero un dulce.

Abuelo: *passes Certs*

Me: ?

7. Smelling ropa vieja cooking all damn day and trying not to eat it when mami steps out of the kitchen.

CREDIT: foodblogmiami / Instagram

Okay. Maybe it wasn’t cooking all day but that smell knows how to fill a space and cling to your clothes. Admit it. You are currently reminiscing about that smell now, aren’t you. If you even tried to take a bite before it was ready all hell rained down upon you.


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Who would have guessed that you could recall a smell just by looking at a picture?

8. Agua de Violetas a.k.a. baby’s first perfume.

CREDIT: labellaviajante / Instagram

Abuela, tía, mami, everyone had this somewhere in their bathroom and it smells like Cuban heaven. If you could bathe in this, you would. When you were younger you were covered in this stuff after every bath from head to toe.

9. Fresh fried croquetas de jambon.

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Nothing says Cuban like the aroma of croquetas slowly wafting into your room. Or is it really just the smell of hot oil in a pot? Either way, these aromas are spellbinding.

10. Men smoking cigars during family reunions.

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And after church, before bed, during the game, and when they had nothing to do. Somehow they always had Cuban cigars even though they weren’t allowed to have Cuban cigars in the US. How did they get them? You never asked.

11. A refreshing malta while you sit at the counter and watch abuela cook.

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Goya makes the best malta and you know it. But even if you can’t get the Goya version or if your family never stocked it, the malta drink was still a staple. It’s a smell you can never forget.

Abuela: *cracks open a malta*


CREDIT: Tam Coco / TBS

Doesn’t matter if you are 5 or 45, that smell will always make you remember being in the kitchen on a hot summer day while abuela was cooking.

12. Café Cubano.

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‘Nuff said. Except there is never enough said when you are drinking café Cubano. Like, it is the fuel you need to survive and sometimes you might get annoying because you just can’t stop talking after you have some of this coffee and….

13. Leche condensada, which was in every dessert you ever ate.

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The sweet, dairy smell still lingers in your nose to this day. Doesn’t matter what it was being used for, you always knew that the smell of sweet milk in the air meant that it was about to go down.

14. The wood rosary you got for your first communion and left on your closet doorknob the rest of your life.

CREDIT: rschllemonique / Instagram

For some reason, this rosary smells totally different than anyone else’s. It was also probably hanging on the doorknob of your bedroom door so you touched it every time you left the house.

15. Peeling open a fresh pack of dominos.

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The smell of the wooden box mixed with the new, plastic smell of the dominos is a thing of Cuban dreams. It was also a definite sign that you’ve become an adult when you got to join in on the game. You didn’t know what you were doing but you were just happy to be included.

16. Lechon that you would have several times throughout the year.

CREDIT: oni_perez / Instagram

Either abuelita was practicing for the big day or there was just an abundance of pork to roast. Didn’t really matter because as soon as that lechon was ready to go, you were ready to feast!

17. Only a true Cuban knows the refreshing scent of Materva on a hot day.

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We will not be outdone when it comes to beverages. If you’ve never had a Materva, you don’t know what you are missing. It is nectar that clearly came to us from above.

18. These shoestring potatoes that were in your sandwiches, hot dogs, and everything else.

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The smell of salty cardboard still makes your mouth water because of these things. Now, where you might run into salty cardboard is your own business.

This is your brain when thinking about those shoestring potatoes.

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Should they be salad croutons? Sure. Can they be dipped in ketchup? Hell yeah. Just enjoy them however you can.

19. Talco powder because baby powder is just too basic.

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Especially the on in the yellow container that smelled like a gift from the gods. You’ve definitely poured all of it out onto the floor before and that was the most fun and scariest day of your life.

20. Who could have guessed that bland crackers and thin paper could smell so good?

CREDIT: mrthepete / Instagram

Throw some butter on those bad boys and they are great with café Cubano. (It all comes full circle.) Plus, those metal containers make great rice storage facilities because they are durable and stack so nicely. *checks Amazon for a bulk order*

21. And, of course, the best damn smell in the world, mojo.

CREDIT: regards_angel / Instagram

A little gift from the Cuban people to the world. You are very welcome. Now go use it on your chicken, beef, whatever because there it nothing mojo (pronounced Mo-Ho) can’t make better.

Now, please excuse me while I go drool in the corner.

CREDIT: The Simpsons / Fox

There’s nothing that smells better than a Cuban childhood because, well, you just read why.

Don’t forget to click the share button below! Share with your friends – they’ll be super jelly of your Cuban childhood. 

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