Puerto Rican and Cuban cooking is similar to both Spanish and Mexican cuisine, it is a unique tasty blend of Spanish, African, Taíno, and American influences, using such indigenous seasonings and ingredients as coriander, papaya, cacao, nispero, apio, plantains, and yampee. The Spanish contributed culinary techniques and wheat products and introduced pork and cattle. The tropical climate required the importation of preserved food; dried codfish was long a dietary mainstay. Candied fruits and fruits preserved in syrup are also traditional. Rum and coffee are the preferred beverages.
Other typical main dishes include fried beefsteak with onions (carne frita con cebolla), veal (ternera) a la parmesana, and roast leg of pork, fresh ham, lamb, or veal, a la criolla. These roasted meats are cooked in the Créole style, flavored with adobo.
Coconut is probably the most common dessert ingredient. Many delectable desserts are made with its milk (leche de coco), including coconut flan, coconut cream desserts, crunchy coconut squares, coconut with meringue, and candied coconut rice. Another classic preparation is coconut bread pudding (boudin de pasas con coco).
Common food choices associated within cultural group.
Grain group: rice, starchy green bananas, usually fried (plantain).
Vegetable group: beets, breadfruit, chayote, chili peppers, eggplant, onion, tubers (yucca), white yams (boniato).
Fruit group: coconuts, guava, mango, oranges (sweet and sour), prune and mango paste.
Milk, yogurt and cheese group: flan, hard cheese (queso de mano).
Meat, fish, eggs and nuts group: chicken, fish (smoked, salted, canned, fresh), shellfish, legumes, pork (fried), sausage (chorizo), calf brain, beef tongue.
Fats and sweets group: olive and peanut oil, lard, coconut.