We had been waiting for our meals with flies buzzing about us. The windows had been covered with thick curtains the table garments had been dirty right after the weekend. When we had waited for a extended time, a young waitress brought our plates and place them in front of us, Spaghetti Bolognese and lasagna: pasta with ketchup, a tiny cheese and a grey, horribly smelling shaking cube.
Out of words we looked at every single other is it for this remedy and meals that persons queue evening right after evening? We had noticed extended queues in front of the peso-restaurants and had decided to attempt a regional common pizzeria. On Monday at lunch time there was no queue in the street, but we had had to wait in a little lobby ahead of we had been named to enter the pretty much empty restaurant.
These days we do not serve pizza, announced the head waiter, a middle-aged lady, dressed in a white blouse and a tight blue skirt like the state servants often are in Cuba.
The lasagna was taken away pretty much untouched. The waitress looked questioningly at me and I told her cautiously that the meals was not in my taste. We paid the bill, the meals expense 12 national pesos but the massive bottle of water had to be paid in convertible pesos (CUC). It expense us 1.five CUC and we left the pizzeria with our heads lowered.
You have to consume each day and a single of the largest delights of a trip is the meals. But in Cuba it is no use to await superior experiences relating to taste. The meals is tasteless and fat: broiled chicken or pig, rice, black beans, potatoes, canned vegetables and cabbage. A traveler occasionally gets desperate, particularly a vegetarian – the vegetable dishes are just developed by taking away the pieces of meat.
A traveler has to take into consideration each day what to consume and exactly where. You can not digest heavy dishes numerous occasions a day. There are not numerous possibilities, particularly for the spending budget traveler, simply because the meals price tag is the very same as in Europe if you do not use exclusively the peso-restaurants.
You locate the greatest service and meals in private paladars – private persons are not permitted to use the name “restaurant”, which is the privilege of the state owned consuming locations. The state desires to guarantee “equality amongst the citizens” and has ordered that in a paladar there may possibly be no far more than 12 seats for shoppers, and in additions it is forbidden to prepare beef and other unique dishes like fresh seafood.
The casas particulares (loved ones accommodation) normally serve meals in addition to breakfast. The hosts often don’t forget to ask the shoppers about dinner wishes. You can also order a single portion for two, a single portion of meat is adequate for each – it is also a bit more affordable. According to the chef’s inventive powers and ability, the portions may possibly turn out to be surprisingly tasteful.
The favored of numerous spending budget travelers is the speedy meals chain El Rapido. You locate their ice cold, air conditioned, consuming locations in a surprising quantity of towns. The Bocadillo, ham and cheese rolls, are tasty and they fill your stomach conveniently for a dollar or so. Also the Palmere restaurants are tidy and reasonably priced consuming locations. They give mostly pizzas, hamburgers and other types of speedy meals. At the street kiosks you can get juicy slices of pizza, they are common speedy meals locations for the locals.
The menu of the restaurants and bars are normally only in Spanish and the price tag and range of meals differs based on the availability of supplies and how massive the customer’s wallet is noticed and irrespective of whether the keeper has to spend provision to the jinitero, a type of a hustler.
In this two-currency nation there are two types of shops: the peso-shops for the locals and exchangeable peso currency-shops. The peso-shops are standard basic retailers or service windows exactly where the sellers are behind a desk promoting what ever takes place to be out there for sale. You can get fresh meals at the agropecuario retailers (agriculture shops / markets) and bread at the bakeries, which appear to be open about the clock. In the peso shops the atmosphere is normally pretty quiet and depressed.
In the weekends and through rush hours persons have to queue for the tough currency retailers these persons that come about to have tough currency. The currency retailers are modern day and the larger ones have guards who let the shoppers in and out right after the money receipt and the acquire has been checked. The unique things, like seasoning cubes, are sold a single by a single at the desk. In currency retailers fresh meals are scarcely noticed, occasionally perhaps cheese and yoghurt, but the freezers are complete of chicken legs – thanks to the lightening of the trade blockade by the US. The export prohibition of agricultural solutions was removed in 2001.
All meals is canned, vegetables, meat, fish. It is tough to have an understanding of why in this nation of eternal summer time, surrounded by the sea, you can not get fresh fish or vegetables and fruit. The town residents are fortunate if they see a farmer promoting his create on a wheelbarrow, calling out “tomatoes, pineapple” and you need to hurry if you are going to get some thing – with pesos in your pocket and a bag for the acquire.
Our buddy Yuri wanted to hear our opinion on his nation and when he asked if we liked Cuban meals, we went speechless. I looked for a polite and accurate answer. “I see it on your face” Yuri laughed hunting embarrassed, but his eyes brightened when I told him that we had in no way got so numerous new buddies and superior organization as in Cuba. And the meals is crowned by velvet soft robust coffee, mojitos, rum and the smell of cigar and the rhythms that carry you away.
Liz Saarelainen is an independent and adventurous traveler from Finland. She spends all out there time traveling to exotic locations, normally with a pretty restricted spending budget.