|7-2, 17:00 (Cuba)
||[Jul. 3rd, 2008, 08:11 pm]
There is a lot I want you to know about. But, since I rambled in my previous letter, instead I'll try to stay on a topic of mutual interest.
"What were the three greatest defeats in the Revolution?"
"Breakfast, lunch, and dinner."
It isn't that Cuban's can't or don't cook. Instead, it's difficult to obtain stocks or ingredients of any sort when everything is regulated. It has been only recently that community farms and coops became legal. There's a farmer's market in Habana, but it's more tourist trap than local gathering.
There are four classes of establishments where we can eat: (all regulated)
1. Restaurants - these can be inside hotels, or on streets. But they're all expensive ripoffs.
2. Street vendors - these can vary from ice cream vendors to refrescos, pizzas to the very common bread and ham sandwich.
3. Paladares - these are people's homes that are open to foreigners. Heavily taxed and often cracked down upon, the government doesn't like them because they smack of private enterprise.
4. Casa particulars - it's required they serve us one meal a day.
The best options are the paladares and the casa's. It's tragic, but for 10 CUC$ a piece, we get to eat incredible meals these families wish for every day. On Monday, when we couldn't finish up, we hoped they ate our leftovers.
The national food of Cuba is rice and beans. Which, before certain times in college, I would have thought depressing and bland. But, every meal we've had has been delicious!
The rice varies - it's usually short grained and bleached. The beans are black and spiced. We mix the two with the rest of our meal to great result.
Beef is illegal to everyone except Cuban Jews. The meats of Cuba are pork and chicken. Fried chicken, baked chicken, and cooked pork. And everything is left in their natural juices up to their serving.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner comes with mango. It's first skinned and then sliced off. And, it's juicy and delicious without fail. Sam devours all he can - his hunger for citrus has been unsated even by the Caribbean. But, it I can find it so good in the States, I definitely have found a new fruit to love. Oddly, it's always served with a dash of sugar.
"Ensalada" is the term used for sliced tomatoes, onions and avocado. Then, sprinkle some salt on top. Sam and I leave the avocados to Chris, and Sam leaves the tomatoes to Chris and me. I feast and mix it with everything. I like Cuban salads.
Rice, beans, meat, mango and "salad." That's a typical Cuban meal.
Of course, there are drinks. In the morning, it's a cup of coffee to get you going. And, orange juice with sugar added during breakfast. In the evening, it's "tuKola" made with "sugar and/or corn syrup." If you want water, you have to ask.
Humorously, I'm eating the most sustainably I have ever - possibly in my life. You've talked about urban farms, there is one right outside my building! Gardens are community plots and produce is sold as such. Livestock is less common. We've seen chickens. But, cows and larger animals are all on the outskirts of town. As are the larger impact fields like rice, beans and sugar.
Supposedly, the best Cuban cuisine is in Miami. But, they're strongly proud about one local culinary variation: ice cream. Coppella is a dedicated park to it. Yeras ago, there was even a competition to have more flavors than Baskin-Robbins. But, it's less fancy now. Regardless, we all enjoyed a glass of strawberry ice cream in the shade. It was, and I'm sure is becoming monotonous, delicious.
Every house receives a crockpot and rice cooker. But, given what I've seen, I think people would kill for a blender like your Annihilatrix. I miss it, with it came nice things.