My Bad Luck TV

Alfredo Fernandez 

In Cuba, “having a chino behind you” is an expression to describe bad luck.  To be exact, it refers to day-to-day luck, which is what’s needed to get through daily life.  It’s the kind of luck that translates into good transportation, easy access to food or the good functioning of the institutions on which we each rely.

So when a Cuban admits to “having a chino behind them,” it’s because everything is going bad and in this way — with reiterated frequency — the person pursued by the chino will experience negative events over and over again.

That’s how I feel several times a week when I turn on my TV, because with “improbable chance” I usually find myself looking at some Chinese cook in the middle of preparing a dish with ingredients completely unattainable on my thin paycheck.

It turns out that with reiterated astonishment I find myself looking at the way-too-many cooking shows that come on television today featuring these Asian gourmets, ones who prepare dishes that might have among their ingredients two pounds of beef just as easily as several lobster tails.

How far my television is from those days of my childhood when Nitzia Villapol prepared exquisite dishes but always keeping in mind the purchasing power of the workers and what there was at the market!

I remember that her program “Cooking in a Minute” ended up having one of the longest-running programs on television worldwide (1951-1997).  But with the 1990s and the arrival of the “Special Period,” Nitzia — despite her desire to cook in front of TV cameras “with her feet solidly on the ground” — couldn’t take it anymore and had to end the program.  A short time later Nitzia died in 1998.

Cocina al Minuto by Nitza Villapol

Perhaps her having been unable to continue carrying out her appetizing program, which was the work of her life, depressed her and contributed to her passing away.

Cuban television doesn’t have problems now.  It merely takes however many Chinese cooks that exist and features them sharing their science fiction recipes with us at any hour of the day.

I don’t know if there are now people in Cuba with the purchasing power that Chinese food demands, maybe they’ve found them and these programs are directed at those households.

If this is the case, the government should start thinking of offering cable TV to those whose culinary consumption already amply exceeds that of ordinary Cubans.

If for some inexplicable reason one cannot see major league baseball on Cuban television, then why do we have to watch Chinese cooks with these recipes so distant from Cuban reality?

Today, thanks to a DVD player and those Havana street vendors of “burnt disks,” I freed my television from its bad luck with Chinese cooks and I made it show a game from the big leagues.



One thought on “My Bad Luck TV

  • Could you imagine Gordon Ramsey trying to improve one of Cuba’s state restaurants?! Although this would be amusing…but I’m afraid the frustrations would cause Gordon to have a coniption, if not an outright nervous breakdown!

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