Cuban-Chinese Arroz Frito Is a Reminder Of A Complex Past

Ask a Cuban-American for a traditional family recipe and you’ll find a common source of laughter. After all, years of training as tiny sous chefs to our abuelas and mamas have taught us that Cuban food (largely considered a peasant cuisine in the culin…

Ask a Cuban-American for a traditional family recipe and you’ll find a common source of laughter. After all, years of training as tiny sous chefs to our abuelas and mamas have taught us that Cuban food (largely considered a peasant cuisine in the culinary world,) is first and foremost about learning to adjust for which ingredients one might have on hand, as well as the preferences of who is cooking and eating. In fact, it seems that if there has ever been a rule to follow precisely when it comes to cooking a Cuban dish, it is to have a grasp of the history behind the meal you’re about to serve, as it has had such an influence on your identity. While being encouraged to measure out cups of rice and seasonings for dishes like ropa vieja and Moros y Cristianos by handfuls and finger pinches, young Cuban-Americans learn the essential lessons of their island country’s extensive, and often unexpected, past.

For me, a first generation-American by way of my mother (she fled Cuba along with her parents and siblings during the Revolution,) the most impressionable lesson about our island country’s culture lies in one of my favorite meals: arroz frito, a Cuban classic with Chinese roots.

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Marisel Salazar Thinks If You Can Eat It, You Can Probably Put Adobo on It

Welcome to Marisel Salazar​​’s Pantry! In each installment of this series, a recipe developer will share with us the pantry items essential to their cooking. This month, we’re exploring 8 staples stocking Marisel’s Panamanian, Cuban, and Japanese kitch…

Welcome to Marisel Salazar​​’s Pantry! In each installment of this series, a recipe developer will share with us the pantry items essential to their cooking. This month, we're exploring 8 staples stocking Marisel’s Panamanian, Cuban, and Japanese kitchen.


When you think of Latin American cuisine, Panama may not jump to your mind; we’re mostly known for the canal, as a financial hub, and for our breathtaking beaches. Our food is a mix of African, Spanish, and indigenous (like the Kuna Indians) techniques, dishes, and ingredients, with rice, beans, and corn as basic staples. Since the country is surrounded on both sides by oceans, we have incredible seafood, tropical fruits, and vegetables. In fact, our unique terroir has contributed to the worldwide popularity of the award-winning Geisha coffee.

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This Comforting Dish Connects Me With My Cuban Roots—but It’s Complicated

“It’s short for the color, you know; that’s why it’s called congrí,” my dad tells me, as he has dozens of times before. “When you cook them together, the beans turn the rice gray. Con-gris, with-gray,” he says in a singsong cadence with hand motions to…

“It’s short for the color, you know; that’s why it’s called congrí,” my dad tells me, as he has dozens of times before. “When you cook them together, the beans turn the rice gray. Con-gris, with-gray,” he says in a singsong cadence with hand motions to match.

It was 2011, and I was a freshman in college. Just a few hours earlier he’d picked me up from the local park-and-ride. I’d taken the bus home from college for the weekend, a trip that became more and more frequent as my misery at school mounted. Only a few months into the school year, I realized that getting good grades and actually wanting to be there were two different things.

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Why Isn’t Everyone Talking About Cuban Pizza?

I have to pick up my partner, John, from Miami International Airport. His flight arrives past midnight, and while this may cause many locals to groan, I’m actually excited. Any reason to be in the western parts of M…

I have to pick up my partner, John, from Miami International Airport. His flight arrives past midnight, and while this may cause many locals to groan, I’m actually excited. Any reason to be in the western parts of Miami-Dade County is also a reason to have pizza cubana. The existence of two 24-hour Cuban pizzerias minutes from Miami’s airport also means that we've created our own tradition of treating ourselves to these cheesy, fluffy pizzas any time one of us flies into MIA.

This particular style of pizza is said to have originated on Varadero Beach in Cuba, a popular holiday destination for many people on the island. Allegedly, the originator moved to Miami after the communist revolution and reopened his famous pizzeria, Montes de Oca. Visit any of the handful of locations scattered across western Miami, and the sign will remind you that it is the original Cuban pizza.

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