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Cuban “Pastelitos de Guayaba”

Two Cuban guava pastries known as pastelitos de guayaba on a plate

This post marks the beginning of a blog series I am self titling “Cheese Around the World.”  As an intern for culture, I wanted to bring something different to the site that didn’t go along with a wine and cheese story or an American cheese tale. Time to spice things up.These next several posts will bring to you a brief history, and often times a recipe describing a traditional cheese dish or pastry eaten in some far reach of the globe.

First on the list of international cheesy treats, are Cuban pastelitos! Being part Cuban, myself, this one is near and dear to my heart. These puff pastries are a traditional snack, dessert, or breakfast perfect for a crazy, Cuban family gathering. Pastelitos can be stuffed with several different combinations of savory or sweet. At my favorite Cuban bakery back home, Merengue Bakery, they carry a wide assortment of pastelitos containing guava, guava and cheese, or beef! Other delicious, traditional fillings include ham, chicken, and pineapple and coconut.

Although the origin of the pastelito is widely speculated, “one theory states that slaves working in Spanish and Cuban sugar mills invented the dish, another says that Pastelito was invented in Cuban households where the preparation was served essentially as an appetizer or as a side dish with main meals.” Either way, pastelitos are an essential part of Cuban tradition, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a Cuban bakery that doesn’t carry them.

Try to make them at home, by following this recipe! Hungry for more? Read the next post on Indonesian Kastengel.

Photo Credit: Mr.TinDC via Compfight cc

Taylor Pierola

Taylor Pierola is a Berkeley California-based culture intern

2 thoughts on “Cuban “Pastelitos de Guayaba””

  1. George says:

    I had heard the origin of the pastel de guayaba was a Lebanese man living in Cuba wanting to replicate the Mediterranean pastry known as Bak-Lava. He couldn’t find the necessary ingredients so he modified them to include: guayaba, coconut, cheese or meat.

    1. John says:

      Not so sure about that. As someone who makes and loves both, baklava is significantly different, and the ingredients are pretty common fare, even in seventeenth century Cuba.

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