counter exotic fruits which you might not recognize, such as guayaba , mamey
and chirimoya .
Guayabas are small fruits, about the size of a peach, which grow on trees
throughout the Cuban countryside. Many locals also plant guayaba trees in their
back yards. The fruit's skin turns to a dark red color when perfectly ripe.
Guayabas are commonly pressed into juice (jugo de guayaba ) and this pulpy,
purple nectar is served throughout the country. Guayabas are also processed into
a thick, sweet paste, usually sold in blocks at local markets and state stores. This
dulce de guayaba is similar to marmalade, and is often used as a breakfast food.
It can be spread on bread ( pan con guayaba ) or used as a filling for various types
of cakes and pastries.
Mamey is the national fruit of Cuba. While mamey is grown throughout Central
America, it is very uncommon in other parts of the world. Mamays have a tough
brown skin and are about the same size and shape as small apples. When ripe,
they are sweet but usually still quite tough. They are commonly blended to make
juice or milkshakes.
Chirimoyas are soft fruits, about the size of grapefruits, with smooth green skin.
When perfectly ripe they taste like a mix between pineapple and banana. In Cuba
they are commonly pressed into juice but some locals also enjoy chilling them
briefly and then using a spoon to scoop out their creamy, white interior.
In terms of vegetables, Cubans tend to use a lot of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions,
garlic and green peppers in their cooking. Salads usually consist of sliced cucum-
bers and tomatoes topped with a few slices of onion, and drizzled with oil and vin-