Food: Part 2

The neighborhood bodega is where all the government subsidized food can be bought each month. Healthy adults and their households get rice, raw sugar, refined sugar, soy oil, black beans, salt, and coffee. At the carnicería one can buy subsidized animal products like chicken, eggs, soy picadillo, sometimes queso fundido, and lunch meat which is kind of like Spam. The quality of these foods aren’t very good but they cost very little when one uses la libreta de racionamiento (Ration book.) Children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with illnesses like diabetes receive extra rations: powered milk, and a cereal that is made from sugar, chocolate, and wheat; for children and pregnant women a nutritious iron drink and extra picadillo. It isn’t much, but la libreta makes some staples affordable. Other affordable foods that are sold in national currency are soy yogurt, crackers, and extra bread. El panadero arrives each evening with one bread for each member of the household. Other foods that are fairly cheap are chicharros (peas,) and fruit and vegetables bought at state-run markets. Sometimes we order pizza, which in Cuba are like soft-round bread with sickly sweet tomato paste and melted (dubious) cheese that you buy on the street or from people’s houses. To eat it, you fold it in half and eat it like a sandwich. Before the Special Period, school lunches were pretty good but now the government only provides a bocadillo de jamón y queso for merienda. (A ham and cheese sandwich) so most children bring food from home or go to a relative’s house or their own house for lunch. My biggest meal of the day is lunch, la comida. Usually rice, beans, an omelette and some vegetables and plantains. In the evening I usually have a sandwich for a snack or some crackers. Breakfast is usually black coffee.

Typical almuerzo (lunch)
The ration book
Inside the bodega
Rice and scale