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Ropa vieja

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cuban dish of ropa vieja (shredded flank steak in a tomato sauce base), black beans, yellow rice, plantains and fried yuca with beer

Ropa vieja (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈro.pa ˈβje.xa]; "old clothes") is a dish with regional variations in Latin America, the Philippines, and Spain. It normally includes some form of stewed beef[1] and tomatoes with a sofrito base.[2] Originating in Spain, it is known today as one of the national dishes of Cuba.[3] The name ropa vieja probably originates from the fact that it was often prepared using food left over from other meals.[4]

The dish's origins appear to have first arisen among the Sephardic Jews of the Iberian Peninsula,[5][6] as a slow-cooked stew that was prepared to be eaten over the course of a traditionally observed Shabbat, a kind of cholent called "handrajos" (similar to the Spanish word "andrajos").[7][8][9] Eventually this dish spread to North Africa and to the Canary Islands of Spain.[10][11]

The dish is believed to have been brought to the Americas by immigrants from the Canary Islands and was first reported to have been cooked in Cuba in 1857, but today is well known as a Cuban national dish.[12][13]

Regional variations[edit]

  • Canary Islands - Ropa vieja is served with both garbanzo beans and potatoes.[13][11] Some versions of the dish in the Canaries include other meats, including chicken and pork.[citation needed]
  • Cuba - Ropa vieja is well known as a national dish (most often served with rice and black beans), but famously was off the menu of many ordinary Cubans for a time[10] during the Special Period of Cuban history, after the fall of the Soviet Union. While some Cubans improvised, substituting lamb[14] or pork[15] for beef during this time (or made special efforts to find beef to make the dish) [16] the dish became commonly available in Cuba again, starting in 2010 with the advent of independent and legal paladares in 2010.[14] The paladares are restaurants in tourist zones, frequented by tourists and a few Cubans who can afford it. Unfortunately, most Cubans do not get to eat ropa vieja because they don't eat at paladares but rather cook their meals at home. Ropa vieja is especially popular among Cuba's Jewish community.[17] Ropa vieja in Cuba is often served with congri rice and fried plantains.[18]
  • In Nicaragua, the dish is called carne desmenuzada, or less commonly ropa vieja. It is made with green bell peppers, onions, garlic, salt, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, and mustard. It is usually served with white rice or alongside gallopinto (national dish of Nicaragua), and fried cheese, fried or boiled plantains.[19]
  • In the Philippines, ropa vieja includes fish sauce and is served with jasmine rice.[10]
  • Other regions - The dish is popular in Honduras,[20] Puerto Rico,[21][22] and other parts of Latin America, as well as among immigrant communities in the United States.[23][24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ross, Chris "Cuban shredded beef has origins in Spain", San Diego (June 25, 2018). Accessed August 10, 2021.
  2. ^ "Recipe: Carne Mechada/Venezuelan Shredded/Pull Beef", Venezuelan Cooking (Dec. 7 2011). Accessed August 10, 2021.
  3. ^ Sierra, Lisa & Tony, "What is Ropa Vieja", The Spruce Eats (July 28, 2021). Accessed August 10, 2021.
  4. ^ "ropa vieja, n." OED Online. Oxford University Press. March 2022. Retrieved 2022-05-05.
  5. ^ "The Ropa Vieja story: the National Dish of Cuba". Revolución de Cuba. June 23, 2015.
  6. ^ "Ropa Vieja", Jewtina (March 12, 2020). Accessed August 12, 2021.
  7. ^ "Historia de la ropa vieja", Radio Progreso (November 24) (Accessed Jan. 26, 2022)
  8. ^ "Ropa Vieja: Celebrating Cuba's independence", Jirie Caribbean (May 5, 2021) Accessed August 12, 2021.
  9. ^ Kaufman, Sheilah "Dafina (Moroccan cholent (Sabbath stew)", MyJewishLearning.com Accessed August 12, 2021.
  10. ^ a b c Scott, Leah "A history of ropa vieja, one of Cuba's most famous and forbidden national dishes", WeAreMitu Archived 2021-11-17 at the Wayback Machine (December 20, 2019) Accessed August 10, 2021.
  11. ^ a b Guy, Jack "Ropa Vieja: How Cuba stole its national dish from the Canary Islands" (October 9, 2017) Accessed August 10, 2021.
  12. ^ P, Neil (March 16, 2020). "History of Cuba's Famous Dish Ropa Vieja". Latin Post - Latin news, immigration, politics, culture.
  13. ^ a b Scott, Leah (December 20, 2019). "A History Of Ropa Vieja, One Of Cuba's Most Famous (And Forbidden) National Dishes". we are Mitú. 100% American & Latino. Archived from the original on November 17, 2021. Retrieved August 10, 2021.
  14. ^ a b Thorman, Kate "The fascinating story of Cuba's revolutionary cuisine", Afar (September 4, 2013) Accessed August 10, 2021.
  15. ^ Bremzen, Anya von, "Pork Ripa Vieja with Raisins", Paladares: Recipes inspired by the private restaurants of Cuba (2017, ISBN 978-1-4197-2703-0) p. 246-247
  16. ^ Svarch, Malena "Even 1,300 miles from home, a young cook remembers Havana", Jewish Food Society (October 19, 2018). Accessed August 12, 2021
  17. ^ Eskenazi, Gerald "How Fidel Castro saved Cuba's only kosher butcher", The Forward (March 11, 2015). Accessed August 12, 2021.
  18. ^ Llamas, Beatriz, "Ropa Vieja", A taste of Cuba (Interlink Books 2005), p. 51
  19. ^ "Preparacion de la Carne desmenuzada Receta Original Nicaraguense". Archived from the original on 2022-02-23. Retrieved 2021-08-20.
  20. ^ "ropa vieja", BuenProvecho.hn Accessed August 10, 2021.
  21. ^ "Ropa Vieja", The Sofritro Project (February 24, 2019). Accessed August 10, 2021
  22. ^ Turshen, Julia (March 2, 2021). "Puerto Rican-Style Ropa Vieja". Leite's Culinaria.
  23. ^ "Puerto Rican Style Ropa Vieja", LeitesCulinaria.com (March 2, 2021). Accessed August 10, 2021.
  24. ^ Kratz, Elizabeth "Sender's to serve elevated Cuban fare at Pop-up on March 10", JewishLink (March 4, 2021). Accessed August 12, 2021.