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Cuban Foodways
Madison, WI

Mario and Yolanda fixing up plates at the restaurant.  Photo by Twyla Clark.Yolanda and Mario would cook food that had a long tradition in Cuba. The main ingredients are rice, meat, beans, fruit,  vegetables and spices. These are blended together in ways that reflect how everyday life in Cuba is lived. When people shop for food in Cuba, it is usually at an outdoor market, not a grocery store or super market. People come from the countryside and the oceanside with fresh produce, meats and seafood for sale. Shoppers decide what to eat depending on what is available in the market.

In Cuban cuisine, it is traditional to serve the same foods on different days of the week, such as chicken or beef on Mondays and fish on Fridays. Yolanda andA plate with chicken, beans and rice, vegetables, salad, and fried plantain.  Photo by Stephanie Aleman. Mario followed this tradition by planning a simple weekly menu that does not change. Every day they offer two meals that have meat, and one meal that is vegetarian. They sell a small or large plate of the food and charge a set price for each. Sometimes they will have a daily special if they have been able to get special ingredients that week.

A Good Cuban Meal

According to Yolanda and Mario, the secret to making good Cuban food is to include a variety of different tastes in balanced portions. A Cuban meal should be served all at once, not in courses, and should be followed by a leisurely cup of strong, hot Cuban-style coffee. Their goal is to make sure people feel full and satisfied when they go back to work or school after lunch.

Eating at Guantanamera lets diners experience the food culture of Cuba. The foods Yolanda and Mario served were typical Cuban meals. Their focus on workers and students showed socialist ideas. The warm welcome they gave made their restaurant a gathering place for Cuban-Americans and others who appreciated Cuban culture. Eating there was a great way to taste Cuban culture in Wisconsin!

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