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A Culinary Look at Women in History : Afro Cuban Women

Cuban plantain soup, recipe below

Enslaved African women in Cuba prepared a thick soup for themselves reminiscent of cooks in West African societies. In it they put pounded corn, wild tomatoes, and boiled plantains. Nineteenth century travel accounts show us that enslaved Afro-Cubans cooked for themselves and did the cooking in the kitchens of plantations, inns, taverns, boarding houses, ships, and restaurants on the island. In 1881 North American observer James W. Steele had this to say about Cuban cuisine. “Soup is always at the Cuban dinner-table; thick stuff that must be eaten rather than taken as a liquid.” He went on to say, “The word soup, as understood elsewhere, has no application in Cuba. It is rather in the form of a mess [a sloppy preparation of food].” 

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