I landed in Havana, Cuba on a bright, humid morning in ~ 10 a.m. ~ above a flight of Cuban expats and American tourists. Swarms of Cubans waited at the departure from defense to uncover their household members, tourism guides through name signs awaited tour team members, and also tourists leisurely flagged down taxis. We located a driver come take us to ours casa particular in Havana. As we drove, I described that ns was interested in Cuban food.

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“Toast and café con leche,” he responded off-handedly, implying the breakfast was not a significant meal. “Maybe eggs, ham, fruit, and cheese for holidays or unique occasions.”


In the stories I’d heard from friends and also bloggers, castle cautioned that Cuba was no a foodie destination. Many accounts make Cuban food the end to be bland and also repetitive. However, ~ eight work visiting the alluring island just 90 miles south of Miami, I can report that Cuban food wasn’t made up of the lackluster meals I’d been warned about—at the very least not entirely. Rather, i was pleasantly surprised by the regional dishes that, like many Caribbean cuisines, are based on starches, pork products, and fresh fruit.


I soon learned the every morning together a traveler in Cuba would be a one-of-a-kind occasion. Many casa particulares offer breakfast to guest as part of your stay. It is bountiful, delicious, and also in fact a very big deal. We remained in three different homes throughout our trip, experiencing three variants on Cuban breakfast, which ns felt reflect the hosts of each.


Every morning in ~ Mary’s home, us wandered on to their sun-streaked porch where we discovered a tiny table set with a flowered table cloth and also laden through food: plates of fruit and tomatoes, a key of white toast, tabs the butter, jam, new pineapple juice, milk, and also instant coffee. After being asked exactly how we choose our eggs, omelets to be whipped up and also served alongside slices of ham and also cheese. I felt somewhat choose a contestant on male vs. Food, trying come consume as much of the spread as possible.



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We had two coffee cups. One small cup for a bitter espresso and a bigger one for café con leche. For the uninitiated, in Latin America café con leche could much more aptly described as leche con café. Because that a scant tespoon of immediate coffee grounds, you to water in a healthy cup of warm milk, making because that a thick, creamy drink.



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The care in breakfast ready was apparent in the bite-size cubes of pineapple, guava, and watermelon on ours plates. The bitty bananas tasted as sweet as candy v the consistency of softened butter. The vibrancy—in color and also taste—of the pineapple and also guava was easily my favorite component of breakfast.



My hypothesis is the all tomatoes in Cuba are properly heirlooms. They have a meaty flavorful acidity, choose the really best tomato at the farmer’s industry in late July. And Cuban produce has no been combined with any genetically amendment Monsanto seeds. You cannot obtain tomatoes like this in Boston in the winter, so i was perfectly happy to snack ~ above slices that them throughout the week at almost every meal.


Mary’s husband had operated as a federal government official and now she daughter is a traditional Cuban musician, for this reason they to be a patriotic family. The care Mary put right into her breakfasts felt prefer an initiation to Cuban breakfasts, like we were welcomed into her timeless family. She food was a reflection of her: understated and also generous.


After four days in Havana, us took a taxi come Trinidad, a small, coastal town on the southerly shore. Italians and also Swedes have been vacationing below for over a decade, and the town has developed to indulge tourists. We had actually our own apartment with a shady terrace finish with a kitchenette and wrought stole patio furniture. This to be where, every morning, Yisel and also Diana— friends who ran a holidays rental business—cooked breakfast and laid it out for united state atop a pressed white tablecloth.


Fresh coffee was brewed and served alongside heat milk, every in its very own thermos. The unpasteurized milk separated in the warm making thin, bitter clouds in the coffee. I don’t think about myself a coffee aficionado, but this wasn’t great. I skipped coffee the adhering to days, thankful the I’ve never occurred a caffeine dependency.


The breakfasts consisted of plates that sliced papaya, orange, pineapple, and also tomatoes, new orange juice, thick ham (like Cuban nation ham), bread, honey, and also dessert. We additionally had fried eggs unlike any kind of fried egg I’d had before. Instead of the traditional thin, crispy egg white skin - man you have in American diners, the whites to be thick and also spongey. The yolks nestled in the whites didn’t ooze almost everywhere the plate as soon as popped. Instead, they gently leaked on optimal of the pillowy whites. I preferred them, since they didn’t on slide off her fork the means thin egg whites do.


We likewise were offered dessert—a tiny cake—with breakfast (which i usually simply wrapped in napkins for later, due to the fact that I to be so stuffed from whatever else). Suitable for the coast town, it looked choose it was extended in sand. That course, it was just sugar. The great of cream had subtle spices of pineapple. The cake itself was a light sponge with hints of coconut. It was favor a cake variation of a piña colada, i beg your pardon felt choose a luxurious method to begin the day.


The spread out of food was very similar, but in between the table setup and serving, this felt choose a fancier meal than we had at Mary’s. Yisel and also Diana let us onto the porch through the adjoining fence to prepare breakfast for us every morning. Whatever was offered on pearly white plates. They produced a spread out that seemed mindful of the european tourists that descend top top the town. Instead of sharing the neighborhood cuisine, they were catering to their customer’s own comforts.


To fly ago to the U.S., we went back to Havana because that one night and also booked one AirBnB that had actually favorable reviews and also a taxi company to the airport. What us didn’t realize beforehand was exactly how generous our hosts would be. The 3 siblings, Pedro, Jorge and also Alyce, who opened their residence to guests were welcoming, gregarious, and also would make a good sitcom. Pedro acclimated guest to their home. Jorge managed the finances. And Alyce remained in charge that breakfast and also was very proud of her cooking.


Paradio Rojo to be a bigger operation. They had actually five different groups continuing to be with them, so we cycled right into breakfast in shifts. Rather of individually collection plates, we offered ourselves native platters, household style. Prefer our other hosts in Cuba, breakfast included a selection of fruits, cured meats, white toast, and eggs. They also served pickled environment-friendly beans and a slim yogurt. This was the most selection we’d seen.


Unfortunately, our breakfast right here was an ext rushed, because there was a Swedish family members waiting come eat your breakfast after ~ us and also because we had actually to gain to the airport. Together we gobbled food and gulped under fresh guava juice, Alyce replenished the platters, scrambled eggs, and chatted with us.

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We comment on how beautiful the spread was, and we now understood all the rave evaluate on AirBnb. She paused, smiling. Alyce explained how she had one guest, a very proper woman, who told her the her breakfast to be perfect. “Perfect!” She exclaimed, an extremely pleased v herself. “And from together a well lady, it to be an honor.”


Pedro also displayed pride in the spread. That insisted the we try the bumpy mandarin oranges. I hadn’t paid them lot attention, because they were not as vibrantly orange as the clementines i eat religiously with the winter. Pedro explained that produce is only obtainable when that is in season, they carry out not have mass imports the food choose we carry out in the U.S. As such, mandarin oranges were no longer available in Havana. These mandarins he had actually picked increase himself once he had made a trip to the eastern end of the island, wherein they were still in season. He was jubilant that he can share this one-of-a-kind treat. The sweetness of the mandarin wedges studded with many seeds reminded me of the fruit’s freshness. One orange to it is in proud of.


The mainly I invested in Cuba delighted me. While our breakfasts to be not intricate bottomless brunches, they showcased the beautiful produce of Cuba and—even an ext than that—Cubans’ hospitality. Breakfast welcomed me right into people's homes, lives, and also culture. All produce and meat elevated in Cuba are chosen and allotted by the government, so there are restrictions on the variety of ingredient available, and things perform run out. This isn’t the sophisticated food that the aristocracy. The is food that the people, clearly made for day-to-day living, and reflects the an essential goals the the Cuban revolution. When I may not don a Che Guevara hat anytime soon, I will certainly say, when it comes to breakfast, viva la revolución!