OMG so tasty

Anyone who knows me well (and, honestly, it should be pretty obvious from this blog, so you don't have to know me hardly at all) is very aware of how much I value food culture.  I tend to be a little confused about what my own food culture actually is, which means I cook lots of Italian, Japanese, Vietnamese, and so on, and hardly any Irish or German (my actual heritage) dishes.

This week, my adopted food culture is Cuban.  Since I lived in Miami for something like 8 years, I think it's fair for me to miss things like black beans and rice (that is, frijoles negros y arroz), fried plantains, and flan.  In the Midwest, the only Latino food to be had is Mexican, and even that is usually Americanized beyond recognition.  However, this doesn't keep me from finding recipes and attempting to cook my own Cuban foods.

There's one website with what seems like very authentic recipes (which means calling for ingredients I can't always obtain), and I've tried a few of these, to delightful result:

Picadillo - this is a ground beef hash made with onions, garlic, tomato, and green olives.  Sometimes picadillo has raisins in it, but I regard that idea the same as I do raisins in meatloaf: gross.  The recipe is easy, and should appeal to anyone who likes green olives.

Ropa Vieja - this is basically a flank steak boiled forever until it can be shredded (like 'old clothes', the literal translation of the dish name).  Included in the recipe are onions, garlic, green pepper, and tomato sauce.  You may notice a trend here.  There's nothing spicy about this recipe, but it's tasty and fairly easy too.

Mojo Chicken with Mango-Avocado Salsa - I have not made this one yet, but will be attempting it later this week.  It looks really good and I'll let you know how it turns out.

Arroz con Leche - Lit. "rice with milk," this is rice pudding.  Although it takes some 2h of cooking, the result is SO DELICIOUS that it prompted me to make this post on Cuban food in general.  Take a look at the recipe: all the ingredients are common things you can get at the store, and might even have at home right now.  The lemon peel is especially important for adding flavor, with the added bonus that boiling it in all that milk and sugar leaves you with pieces of candied lemon peel hidden in your rice pudding.  Seriously, try making this.  It is amazing.  There are no words.  Or, judging from what I've just written, there are not enough words.

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