09/02/13 - Havana Times (Nicaragua) - The Joy of Cuba's Oldtimers: ¡The Chicken Has Arrived!
A Cuban neighborhood "bodega" where rationed goods are sold. Foto:
HAVANA TIMES - Like the frantic cry of "Land!" from a lookout atop a mast
or the excited exclamation of a watchtower vigil, this is how the elderly
in Cuba call out to let the neighborhood know that chicken has been
Without a doubt, beyond what FAO statistics may say, there may not be
literal starvation in Cuba, but we are an underfed people. The habit of
walking around with plastic bags in our pockets so we can bring home
whatever food items might turn up has become a compulsion.
Guaranteeing our daily bread is a serious problem for most Cubans. It's
getting harder and harder to obtain food to put on the table. The price of
produce at the markets is extremely high for such low wage levels.
For example, vegetables, tubers, meats, and meat products are all quite
expensive. The worst part is that the supply often doesn't meet the demand.
It's possible to get five pounds of rice a month at a cheap price, and two
additional pounds at a higher cost at the neighborhood supply store
"bodega". Also available there are twenty grams of beans, four pounds of
sugar, and half a liter of cooking oil. This, along with a packet of short
or long pasta per person, makes up the quota of basic rationed goods
But protein allotment is the saddest part of the story. Five eggs, some
minced soya, and seventeen ounces of chicken per month. For many, the
latter produces the most anticipation.
Retired people, who are often the ones running errands for the household,
keep track of what days in the month are chicken delivery days. They mark
them on the calendar, they talk about it, and they get terribly stressed
out if the delivery is late.
Or, if it does come but is recalled because the weight wasn't adequate.
Or, if they didn't drop off their ration booklet at the counter in the
supply center on time. Or, if they didn't get in line fast enough and they
have to resign themselves to hearing the butcher's complacent words,
".there wasn't enough, so you'll have to wait 'til the next time around."
Getting the chicken is like an obsession for the elderly. It's their
biggest concern, and I think they feel that succeeding to bring it back
home is their main responsibility.
These poor old people don't talk about anything else. It's as if their
lives depended on those seventeen miserable ounces of poultry. They march
out to wait in line to buy the chicken like they're carrying out a
"Hey, tell me when the chicken gets in!" is a concern for homemakers.
"I'm going to leave my ration booklet with you so you can put it in the
butcher's mailbox in case the chicken gets delivered and I'm not here."
says one neighbor to the other.
"The chicken arrived!" is like the lookout's battle cry for the elderly.
Original Source / Fuente Original:
CUBA-L FAIR USE NOTICE
This server contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of Cuba's political, economic, human rights, international, cultural, educational, scientific, sports and historical issues, among others. We distribute the materials on the basis of a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107. The material is distributed without profit. The material should be used for information, research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/ uscode/17/107.shtml.