Dear Cuban-American: I love Cuban cuisine, but some of the names for entrees are silly! Seriously: a sandwich called media noche? A beef dish called ropa vieja? I get moros y cristianitos for black beans and white rice (funny, in its own racist way), but what are the origins of the other two?
Tostones, not maduros
Dear Mr. not Maduros,
It's actually Moros y Cristianos (Moors and Christians) not Cristianitos, our Christians are all grown up. Since your question is about Cuban cuisine, I decided to once again call in some experts, namely "Three Guys from Miami" from iCuban.com. Here's what they had to say:
Medianoche means midnight in Spanish -- so think of the medianoche as the ultimate midnight snack. After a night of drinking and dancing, many people stopped for a bite to eat before heading home to bed. The medianoche is basically the same as a Cuban sandwich, only smaller and served on a sweet egg dough bread. This smaller version of the popular Cuban was just the right size for a late night snack! After all, who wants to eat a big meal right before bed?Watch the "Three Guys from Miami" on The Food Network. They will be appearing on "Christmas in America with Rachel Ray" thoughout December, demonstrating a genuine Cuban pig roast. For air dates and times visit iCuban.com. There you can also find links to purchase their excellent cookbooks "Cook Cuban" and "Celebrate Cuban".
Ropa vieja means “old clothes” in Spanish and is a dish of shredded meat, usually made from a leftover beef roast. Like an old cotton shirt or pair of jeans, the "old" meat frays or shreds easily. Many people in Cuba also made this with tasajo or salted beef that was sometimes available when fresh beef was not. Again the tasajo was "old" beef as opposed to fresh beef and was easily broken into shreds for this very typical dish of Cuba.
By the way, tostones are good but maduros rule!
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