Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

December 29, 1998


HAVANA - On this island during the "Special Era" of austerity, a high percent of the citizens are oblivious as to what they eat. Thus they do not worry about the good or bad of foodstuffs.

If the "Special Era" established any rules, it did so at the dinner table. The food industries could possibly be proud of having passed through one of the most distinguished times in the history of food combinations of secret and unknown sources.

That is the case of certain processed meats that have a pale orange amalgam whose meat component is illusory. The goose paste "pasta de oca," half-blended and sticky, is a somber cream color, odorless and tasteless. Ground meat with soybeans, a.k.a. "extended," has a hateful smell, spoils easily and has a cardboard-like taste. Chicken steaks, mixed with generous amounts of raw cereals, have a scaly texture. And the hamburgers or "superzás" seem to have as their source of protein, according to popular acclaim, earth worms.

I take responsibility for this report, but I back up the "pragmatic" statistics of my own experience by means of an inquiry amongst my fellow beings. The most common consequences of this daily struggle with a deficient diet in this "workers' paradise" are gastrointestinal diseases, allergies and dermatological problems, not to mention long term bone and muscle sequelae, vitamin deficiencies and anemia.

Presently the ophthalmic and peripheral neuropathy diseases are good examples of the sovereign will of "our drivers," who subject the health of "their" flock to other priorities. The tourist, paradox of the times, serves as a bellwether. Tourism has not been restricted by the embargo during the starvation period. At the table of the Germans, Canadians, Italians and bingeing Mexicans, the most expensive dishes are never lacking. Tourists usually are healthy.

Let get back to the products which are offered us at our markets with refined and wicked eagerness. A few days ago, a cargo of croquettes broke through into the gastronomic web at the capital and other urban centers. These croquettes for home consumption were made of processed meats and were priced at 50 cents each. They were similar to those of 1970 and 80, which the people baptized as "cielito lindo" (beautiful heaven) because they adhered well to the roof of the mouth (roof: heaven), and were almost impossible to dislodge.

Little would this croquette be able to contribute to the horror anthology if it were not for its behavior during cooking. As they are not well coated, housewives usually "bread" them with flour. Then they are ready to fry.

It is then that the aggressive croquetes explode like grenades in multiple fragments, burning the cook when the amorphous mass jumps, spraying hot oil. Covering the pot does not help because then the covers also fly, with a risk of worse damage.

When the "warrior-like" character of the croquettes became the talk of the day in all of the social layers, excluding of course the government heights, the croquettes disappeared from the market. No further comment was heard, with the exception of a brief radio commentary.

Until now, the most stubborn official silence has wrapped "the mystery of the killer croquettes," as some jokers like to call them. Incredible? Not so, it is absolutely true.

Rey Terré Ghost, Cuba Free Press.

P.O. Box 652035
Miami, FL 33265-2035
Copyright © 1999 - Cuba Free Press, Inc.