There is apparently as much mystery surrounding the origins of the “Chinese box” as it is about how to use it for those unfamiliar with the roaster. Stories have been told about the roughly 150,000 Chinese workers who came to Cuba in the 1850s and brought the kitchen style to the island, hence the term “Chinese box.” Research, however, indicates that there is no known record of the toast box dating that far back. In fact, it appears that there was relatively little mixing between Chinese and Cuban cuisines. So where did the box originate from and where did the name “la caja china” (the chinese box) come from?
According to food anthropologist Sidney Mintz, a more likely scenario is that the term “Chinese” or “Chinese” does not represent the country in this case, but is actually a common Hispanic term that describes something as exotic, mysterious, or intelligent. Using this interpretation, “the Chinese box” would be translated as “the smart box” instead of “the Chinese box”. This hypothesis is reinforced by renowned Cuban chef Maricel Presilla of the Zafra restaurant in New Jersey when she states: “Cubans like to call anything unusual or intelligent Chinese. And this is true throughout the Caribbean. Virtually any culture. there, whether Cubans or Puerto Ricans or Dominicans, they have something like this somewhere: a Chinese Box. ” (Sifton) Variations on the box can be found in various countries, and they have a variety of names. In Peru there is the “box china criollo”, in the Cuban community the “box asadora” and the “asador cubana” (Cuban toaster).
In the Cajun community of Louisiana it is known as a “Cajun microwave.” The reality is that all of these grill boxes are very similar in their cooking style, using the heat of the charcoal and the pressure of a closed grill box to cook large amounts of food in an incredibly short amount of time. Not only is the cook time cut from eight or more hours for a large pig to just four, but the meat comes out incredibly tender. In my opinion, it is the best kept secret in the American barbecue community today. You can purchase one, along with its accessories, at http://www.shoplatintouch.com. Once you have one, you will wonder why it took so long.