Cuba has been renowned for many things over the years (cigars, mojitos, bright colours), but not its culinary offerings. However, food on the tropical island has been undergoing something of a renaissance lately, with the arrival of new paladares (private restaurants in people’s homes), farmers’ markets and street food stalls. Imogene Tondre, co-author of new book, Cuba: The Cookbook (published by Phaidon), says, ‘There’s a huge increase in restaurants and paladares, and they’re innovating with creative takes on traditional dishes using local ingredients’. Dishes from her book include green peanut sauce, tarot root gnocchi with Cuban sauce, and yucca flan (all pictured below).

 The Cookbook

Cuba: The Cookbook, published by Phaidon. Photography: courtesy of Phaidon

The interest in new Cuban cuisine extends beyond the country, too. Chef Luis Pous, who left Cuba frustrated by the lack of ingredients, went on to set up Miami restaurant Asia de Cuba, and there are now branches in New York, London and Dubai. ‘Cuban cuisine is eclectic,’ says Pous. ‘We’ve been influenced by the French, Spanish, Chinese, Africans and more, so I added ingredients that are hard to find in Cuba to our traditional dishes to create new offerings, such as scallops with black fried rice, foie gras croquetas, and lobster sofrito.’

Miami chef Eileen Andrade, the granddaughter of first generation Cuban immigrants and restaurateurs, has taken the cuisine even further by fusing it with Korean at her acclaimed restaurant Finka Table & Tap. And at Paladar, a new London restaurant that bills itself as Latin American, you’ll even find a Habanero, a spicy version of the classic mojito, which features a chilli syrup. We’ll drink to that.

As originally featured in the June 2018 issue of Wallpaper (W*231)