The Country Food Similarity Index is a statistically-based attempt to quantify how similar the food in one country is relative to another. By comparing the weight of raw food ingredients used in each country, a score is assigned that reflects the degree of similarity between the respective countries. The methodology is exactly the same for each country studied.
The Most Similar Cuisines to Cuban Food
The diverse cultural heritage of Cuba has greatly shaped its food traditions. As a result, Cuban cuisine is a fusion of European and African culinary influences. Four of the five countries with the most similar food are also Spanish-speaking countries. These countries are all predominately Catholic as well. Furthermore, these nations are located in tropical regions.
- Venezuela is in South America, but it also borders the Caribbean Sea. Both nations share a love for hearty stews, plantains, and beans. The traditional Venezuelan arepa is somewhat similar to a Cuban sandwich. Both are breads that are sliced open and often contain meat and cheese. However one big difference is that Venezuelans tend to eat more corn based products.
- Nicaragua is another nation that borders the Caribbean Sea. Both countries eat rice and beans as staple ingredients in their everyday meals. Gallo pinto, a popular Nicaraguan dish, is similar to Cuba’s congri or moros y cristianos. Another shared love is the use of plantains, which are often fried and served as a side or used in dishes like tostones or maduros.
- Brazil is the only country on this list that was not colonized by Spain. However, it’s people also have a mix of European and African ancestry. The Afro-Brazilian dish, feijoada, a hearty black bean stew with various cuts of meat, is reminiscent of Cuba’s classic bean-based dishes. These countries also eat a significant amount of cassava. However, while chicken is the most popular meat in both countries, Brazilians tend to eat more beef.
- Costa Rica and Cuba are another pair of Spanish-speaking countries that eat similar food. Rice and wheat are the two most common ingredients in their cuisine, while chicken and pork are their most common proteins. Gallo pinto, Costa Rica’s national dish, features rice and beans cooked together and seasoned with various spices. The use of tropical fruits and vegetables, such as plantains, yams, and papayas, is also shared by both countries.
- Peru‘s cuisine exhibits certain similarities with Cuban food, particularly in their use of spices and flavors. Both countries share a passion for marinating and grilling meats, resulting in mouthwatering dishes like Cuba’s lechón asado (roast pig) and Peru’s anticuchos (grilled skewers). Additionally, the consumption of ceviche, a popular seafood dish marinated in citrus juices, is prevalent in both countries. However, potatoes much more commonly eat in Peruvian cuisine.
The Least Similar Cuisines to Cuban Food
Few countries have food that is far different from Cuba, since its cuisine has quite diverse ingredients. Four of the five countries with the least similar food to Cuba are located in Africa. In addition, these nations are all landlocked. Another big difference is that the standard of living in Cuba is higher than these five countries.
- South Sudan is a country in the middle of Africa. Cassava is its primary staple food, however the country eats a lot of sorghum as well. Porridge is one of the most popular dishes in the country. In addition, South Sudanese cuisine features a variety of sauces and condiments made with peanuts, sesame seed, unlike in Cuban cuisine.
- Mongolia is the only country in Asian on this list. While many Asian countries consume a lot of rice, the staples of Mongolia’s cuisine are wheat, meat, and dairy products. Their people typically eats far more beef and lamb than Cubans. They also rarely eat tropical fruits like bananas and papayas.
- Niger is a landlocked country in the Sahel region of Africa. It has an extremely dry climate, in contrast to Cuba. Its two most common staple foods are millet and sorghum, two grains that are rarely consumed in Cuba. Some traditional dishes in Niger include tuwo, a porridge made from millet or sorghum, and dambunama, a dish made from millet, vegetables, and meat.
- Zambia is further to the south than the other African countries on this list. While cassava and corn are not uncommon ingredients in Cuban food, a far larger portion of the diet in Zambia is based on these staples. Its is also one of the few countries in Africa where plantains and bananas are not widely consumed.
- Chad is located to the east of Niger. It is another former French country that is mostly Muslim. Like Niger, its two most common staples are millet and sorghum, grains that are rarely consumed in Cuba. Furthermore, beef and yams are a much larger portion of the Chadian diet.
Cuba’s Most Common Food Ingredients
Protein: Chicken, Pork
Fruit: Banana, Papaya
Vegetable: Tomato, Bean
Starch: Wheat, Rice
Primarily based on 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.