Rationing was introduced in 1962 to ensure that all Cubans have equal access to food. The ration book (libreta) is supposed to guarantee a regular supply of foods such as sugar, rice, beans and cooking oil to all Cubans. However, there are still shortages of many foods. 

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 ended grain imports, which were used to feed cows and chickens. As a result, beef, chicken, milk and eggs became scarce. A lack of fuel for agricultural machinery meant that crops could not be harvested. These problems have improved a little in recent years, but shortages are still common. To supplement their rations, some Cubans buy products through the underground market system. Others raise chickens and grow vegetables. 

Traditional Cuban cuisine is called criollo. The basic ingredients are rice, beans, eggs, tomatoes, lettuce, chicken, beef and pork. Yucca (also known as cassava) and malanga are root vegetables that can be boiled or baked. The most common seasonings are onion and ajo (garlic). 

Ajiaco is a stew made with meat, garlic and vegetables. Pork may be served with a garlic sauce called mojo criollo. Congrí is rice cooked with red kidney beans. Rice with black beans is called moros y cristianos, which means "Moors and Christians." Fufú is made from green bananas that have been boiled and mashed. It is sometimes served with crumbled pork rinds. Fritúra de maíz (corn fritters) are often served at street stalls. Plátanos maduros fritos (fried sweet bananas) may be served as a dessert.

  Did you know?
Small, family-run restaurants called paladares were legalized in 1993, although they were a tradition before that time. Most of these restaurants accept payment only in American dollars.
Coffee is usually served strong and sweet. Another favourite drink is guarapo, a clear juice made from sugar cane. Cuba's national drink is rum, and Cuba is famous for its rum cocktails. The mojito is made with white rum, ice, fresh lime juice, sugar, soda water and fresh mint leaves. The daiquiri consists of white rum, sugar, fresh lime juice and crushed ice.
  Mojo Criollo 

 8 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground oregano (optional)
1/2 tsp ground cumin (optional)
125 ml sour orange juice 
(or 75 ml orange juice and 50 ml lime or lemon juice)
1/2 cup olive oil 


 Mash the garlic with the salt to form a paste. Add the spices and sour orange juice. Let stand for 30 minutes. Stir in olive oil. Use as a marinade for meat before it is roasted or barbequed.