Food: Part 4

Unlike in the United States where you can buy whichever food you need from basically anywhere you want, including gas stations, corner stores, supermarkets, drugstores, department stores, specialty food stores, online, you name it, buying food in Cuba is much more difficult and extremely disorganized and confusing. For example, if you want to buy garlic for cooking, you can’t just go buy it in a supermarket like a Whole Foods or whatever. You have to wait for a vendor to walk down your street yelling “ajo!!” (garlic.) That happens pretty much all day long, vendors walking down the street shouting out what they’re selling, whether it be: “guayaba, zapote, limón!” or “cloro!” or “ajo, cebolla!” or “yuca, guineo!” or “pasteles!” It’s lucky when the guy who sells pasteles comes by. Those are buttery cookies filled with guava jam, they’re delicious. One morning, there wasn’t much food in the house and Noel and I had to go to a friend’s place in another quarter of the city. As we were walking we ran into a vendor selling bananas and yuca, and we bought a bunch of each. It’s totally normal to see people walking around with their arms filled with various fruits and vegetables. Luckily for us, we could eat the bananas for breakfast, I recall being very hungry. Cuba never really recovered from the Special Period of the ’90’s. Although there is much more food now, hunger is still a pretty normal part of daily life especially if you don’t have a lot of hard currency (tourist money) on hand. For example the government rationed bread doesn’t always arrive at night, or if you’re hungry during the day and don’t hear the panadero’s whistle, you’re out of luck.

a rope of garlic
Noel holding pastel de guayaba
A good breakfast!