- May 13, 2010
- Reaction score
- Los Angels, USA
- Political Leaning
- Slightly Conservative
Even Rice and Beans Are Disappearing From Our Plates
Yoani Sanchez: Even Rice and Beans Are Disappearing From Our Plates
Several years ago I met a young woman about to travel outside the country for the first time. She had so many doubts about what she would find on the other side that she asked those who had already "crossed the pond" about even the smallest details. She wanted to know if she should take a coat or short sleeved clothes for the summer in Europe and if, with her slight knowledge of English, she would be able to be understood. She inquired about names, places and even flavors, as one of her principle fears centered around whether she would like the food over there. She feared, basically, that she would not find on her plate the rice and beans she was used to eating every day.
When she confessed this to me I wanted to laugh, but then I realized the awkward situation that a break in her dietary routine represented for her. Since childhood she'd been accustomed to that Creole combination and the thought of finding herself in front of a plate of vegetables seemed like a sacrilege. She was worried about having to eat just broccoli or spinach, as she had seen in some movies, and about going for more than a month without black beans and rice, which we call "Moors and Christians." Her distrust reached the point to where she boarded the plane with her luggage loaded up with several pounds of her inseparable legumes and daily grain. She never returned from that trip because she settled in Northern Italy, apparently finding herself enchanted with the flavor of the place.
The impoverishment of our culinary culture, due to the chronic crisis in which we live, has gotten to the point where our palates experience barely a dozen flavors. The "proteins" that show up on Cuban plates are those contained in a hot dog, a slice of turkey hash, or a piece of beef liver. These products have the most affordable prices at the convertible peso stores and are imported, for the most part, from the country to the north so often mentioned in political slogans. Even pork has become unattainable and, in my neighborhood, when eggs are for sale there's a joy as if it were the advent of the Three Wise Men themselves. The repetitive mix of rice and beans is also disappearing due to agricultural disaster, drought, and the dysfunctional nationalization of our fields. Now we have to fork over double and even triple the cash to enjoy
According to the report of Cuba National Bureau of Statistics on May of 2010 production of beans, staple food in the Cuban diet like the rice, decreased by 30.5%.The fact that Havana Province will one day achieve complete self-sufficiency in rice with its own crops will without question be a sizable technical triumph and a sizable triumph for the revolution…. it is to be hoped that by the 1970 crops; Cuba will have--by the end of 1970, Cuba will be able to wholly satisfy all its rice needs with its own crops. In other words, Cuba will not have to import rice in 1971!
We will have no less than half a million tons of rice. We think that we will have enough rice for each citizen to have one-third of a pound of rice a day. - Castro speech, July 118, 1968
It has become extremely difficult to get potatoes, rice or beans in the markets. Radio Rebelde, a state-run radio station, asked the people not to hoard rice, since rice has become scarce recently, to reduce the cost of importing it. The Cuban people will have to tighten their belts even more.
The inefficient collectivized agricultural system, brought about by the military dictatorship, is the cause of the food shortages. But the people, that aren’t to blame for the agricultural disaster, are asked to cut back the consumption of rice and beans, basic food of their diet. Things were bad , and now thet are worse.