While you are ordering, skip the spaghetti too. I have written before about how bad Cuban food in Cuba is, but I believe I hit the bottom of the taste barrel when I had pizza this last November.
I want to begin with the fact that the Italians don’t exactly have a presence in Cuba, nor do the Cuban’s have any true exposure to proper Italian food, so my guess is that the concept of pizza in Cuba came from returning Cubans longing for something more than beans and rice while visiting family members.
Let us begin with the crust. Pizza crust is a simple concept whether you like it thick or thin. In Cuba it is thick and soggy. Now, there are no fancy pizza ovens in Cuba, and if you head to a “pizza parlor” it will be a kitchen in someone’s home with a small electric oven, so I will definitely cut them slack on the crust.
Next is cheese. Cubans don’t really have cheese. That isn’t to say you can’t get it in the country, it is simply a very bland, government made, brick of white/yellow/indeterminable color cheese.
Now, mozzarella isn’t exactly a sharp tasting cheese either, while buffalo mozzarella is one of my favorite cheeses in the world with fresh tomatoes, regular mozzarella in the United States can be a tad bland as well, so again, cutting them some slack.
It is the tomato sauce. This is where I get confused. Tomatoes abound in Cuba, so why can they not make tomato sauce. For some reason this is not how it is done in Cuba. The way to get tomato sauce for pizza in Cuba is to open a can of tomato sauce and then add 2 cups of sugar.
Voila! Pizza in Cuba. A sickening sweet tomatoe sauce, poured on a soggy piece of dough and topped with a tasteless cheese. As I said, just don’t!
In Zoë Brân’s book Enduring Cuba, I was interested in her discussion about pizza. She was in Baracoa and discussed eating pizza, saying it was sour. She did not elaborate as to how it was sour, but my guess is that instead of 2 cups of sugar to the canned tomatoes sauce, the Baracoan’s add vinegar.
Oh, and the spaghetti…same tomato sauce, just a fair warning.