Cuban cuisine has been influenced by Spanish, French, African, Arabic, Chinese, and Portuguese cultures. Traditional Cuban cooking is primarily peasant cuisine that has little concern with measurements, order and timing. Most of the food is sauteed or slow-cooked over a low flame. Very little is deep-fried and there are no heavy or creamy sauces. Most Cuban cooking relies on a few basic spices, such as garlic, cumin, oregano, and bay laurel leaves. Many dishes use a sofrito as their basis. The sofrito consists of onion, green pepper, garlic, oregano, and ground pepper quick-fried in olive oil. Another common staple to the Cuban diet are root vegetables such as yuca, malanga, and boniato, which are found in most Latin markets.
A typical Cuban breakfast consists of a tostada and cafe con leche. The tostada is a portion of Cuban bread which is buttered then toasted on an electric grill. The cafe con leche is a combination of strong, espresso coffee with warm milk. Additionally, some may eat ham croquetas, smoky creamed ham shaped in fingerrolls, lightly breaded, and then fried. For those on the run, with no time or desire to eat, a shot of cafe cubano, Cuban coffee, will revive the dead.
Lunch consists of empanadas, chicken or meat turnovers, or cuban sandwiches. The sandwich could be a media noche (midnight sandwich), consisting of a slice of pork, ham, and swiss cheese and then topped with pickles and mustard on sweetened egg bread.
Dinner will usually consist of a meat, chicken, or fish dish as the entree accompanied by white rice, black beans, and maduros sweet fried plantains. At times, a small salad of sliced tomatos and onions or avocados might be added to the meal. The meal is followed by dessert, such as the typical flan, a Cuban caramel-favored custard, and another shot of cafe cubano.
For holidays or special occasions, the one dish that typifies Cuban cuisine would be a small pig, marinated with salt, garlic, and sour orange juice, and then roasted over an open re, and slowly cooked for several hours. The accompaniments for such a dish could consist of congri, a white rice and black bean mixture also known as Moors and Christians, boniato in a garlic dressing, and maduros. For refreshments, the most typical drinks are the daiquiri and the mojito. Both are made with lime juice and pure cane rum.