What to bring as a gift from Cuba

What to bring as a gift? This perennial problem is usually bothering tourists from the first days of travel. We want to give something unusual, but special for the country and not very expensive - because every one has a lot of friends.

On this page we will publish not standard traveler's ideas what to bring as a gift.

If you can replenish our ideas - indtravel.admatgmail.com (write us) 

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Spices ñomino (cumin) are added on Cuba practically into all dishes - in fried eggs, rice, beans, meat and so on. It has been sold at almost any grocery store. Cumin is a pungent spice commonly used in Cuban, Middle Eastern and Latin American dishes. It is available in seeds as well as a ground form, has a nutty flavor and aroma. Cuban cuisine has been influenced by Spanish, French, African, Arabic, Chinese, and Portuguese cultures. Traditional Cuban cooking is primarily peasant cuisine that has little concern with measurements, order and timing.  Most of the food is sauteed or slow-cooked over a low flame. Very little is deep-fried and there are no heavy or creamy sauces. Most Cuban cooking relies on a few basic spices, such as garlic, cumin, oregano, and bay laurel leaves. Many dishes use a "sofrito" as their basis.  The sofrito consists of onion, green pepper, garlic, oregano, and ground pepper quick-fried in olive oil.  The sofrito is what gives the food its flavor. It is used when cooking black beans, stews, many meat dishes, and tomato-based sauces. Meats and poultry are usually marinated in citrus juices, such as lime or sour orange juices, and then roasted over low heat until the meat is tender and literally falling off the bone. Another common staple to the Cuban diet are root vegetables such as "yucca", "malanga", and "boniato", which are found in most Latin markets. These vegetables are flavored with a marinade, called "mojo", which includes hot olive oil, lemon juice, sliced raw onions, garlic, cumin, and a little water.

It is said that Cuban coffee possess and differs by a noble aroma. The best grades are: "Ñubita" - traditional brand, "Turquino" and "Arabica Serano Washed". And there is also rather rare coffee with a specific taste under the name "Monte Rouge". Coffee falls into the category of not state export, therefore it is allowed to be taking out in unlimited quantities. It is better for buying in the central agricultural provinces Sancti Spiritus and Ciego de Avila, for example, in the town Trinidad. 
Barra de Guayaba and Barra de Mango are fruit marmalades made from guava or mango - for those who fond of sweets. Criollo cooking usually has very simple desserts made mainly using fruit and sugar such as Dulce de Coco - ground coconut flesh boiled with sugar and Casquitos de Guayaba - guava flesh boiled with sugar.Dulce de Guayaba, Barra de Guayaba or Membrillo are names of the Cuba's most common dessert Guava Paste - guava, sugar and gelatin. Criollo style desserts from are tremendously sweet as fruits and sugar are used in equal quantities. This has led to establishment of another custom of eating these desserts along with salted cheese or cream cheese. Other common ingredients in criollo desserts are cinnamon, lime and vanilla. Marmalade is very common dish in Cuba made with guava, mango or other tropical fruits. Marmalades are used as a filling for other desserts, such as Pasteles, Masareal and Empanadas - different types of marmalade-filled pastries. Plantain-based desserts are also eaten in Cuba like Platanos en Tentacion - sweet plantains cooked with cinnamon, sugar, limejuice, white wine or rum.

Cuban cigars

There are Cuban cigars. On Cuba are produced 35 brands and 80 sorts of cigars. The Cuban cigars are made from black Hawaiian tobacco. Those cigars, which rolled up manually are more valuable. Their integumentary folios are usually thin, elastic and greasy. The bouquet of cigars in many respects depends on a place of gathering of tobacco. The most widespread trade marks of cigars: "Partagas", "Montecristo", "H. Upman", "Romeo y Julieta", "Trinidad". The best, in opinion of judges, are "Cohibo" and "Suaba". A cigar that has average length (about 130-140 mm) is preferable to be chosen.

Alcoholic beverages and tinctures

There is famous Cuban rum. "Havana club" is the most well known and legendary. There are three varieties of the "Havana club": "Carta Oro", "Carta Blanca" and "Anejo", accordingly - "gold", "white" and "old" rum. The price depends on the period of fermentation and storage (from 3 to 25 years). The "Anejo" uses popularity especially (it costs approximately 8-10 US dollars). 
In Pinar del Rio and Vinales has been sold full-strength burning herbal tincture Guayabita del Pinar, 40%, that can be dry and sweet. Guayabita is a unique Cuban spirit, made from the dwarf guava (nana) fruit. The fruit itself is not too different than regular guava, except that it only grows to be about the size of an apple. Pours distinctly syrupy with a dark amber colour. There are similar flavours of guava and mango, but with a little floral hint somewhere in the burning of drink and the syrupy sweetness. Mixes very well with rum and unsweetened tropical fruit juice, since it has more than enough sugar alone.


A national man's suit Guayabera represented as a light shirt with superimposed pockets.

Decorations and bijouterie

There are jeweller wares made with use of black coral and silver. It is advised to remember that 90% of products at fairs of artisans made of black coral are fakes. There is a brand-name shop in Havana - Habanera, where a wide choice of elegant decorations will be shown to you and documents, necessary for the export of black coral from the country will be given out (a thread of quite large beads and earrings are cost approximately 270 euros).  
There are bangles, necklace, hairpins and combs, which made of armour of tortoise/turtle
Necklaces made from a cow bone, crocodilian teeth, enamel and fruit pips look brightly and in a very original way.

Leather products

There are products made of crocodilian skin. At purchase of wares made of a crocodilian skin demand from seller the licence for the export, otherwise this souvenir will be withdrawn at passage of the customs control.
A beautiful picture album made of a hide of bison can be purchased also. Afterwards in it can be kept Cuban photos.

Articles of art and goods of folk trades

Among Cuban pictorial works can be found real masterpieces. Artists usually expose pictures at fairs of handicraftsmen, in Havana - on Malecon.
Bongo or tumbadora, clave are musical instruments. Their souvenir variant is made for the decorative purpose only; therefore it is not needed to show high requirements towards quality of a sound.
There are beautiful wooden statuettes of any size, mainly it is bare female figurines, but can be observed and masculine figures too.
There are products with Che Guevara's image (their quality leaves much to be desired).
Huge beautiful shells are wonderful gift too. 

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