Daisy Valera

Photo: Angel Yu

“What we need is meat.” This phrase can be heard anywhere in the city, in a hospital intensive care unit or in any home, while our athletes suffer their losses.

This prayer is repeated almost to the point of making us think that a little animal fat and flesh is the solution to all our ills in this country, more and more fraught with problems.

I surprise myself thinking that a good smoked ham would make up for the public transportation disaster or our enervating water shortages.

There are many stories about Cubans routinely buying large quantities of meat in markets all around the world, while Cubans here rejoice over a few thin sausages or celebrate for coming across a little beef jerky.

Many people wait in lines for what is provided through their ration cards, whether its chicken or fish.

We remain submerged in contagious nostalgia for Russian canned meat, and we look forward to December 31 to have something besides rice as a main dish.

With no other alternatives, Cubans resort to hard-currency markets, scouring through the frozen meat bins trying to come up with the cheapest ground meat or the sausage packet with the most links.

Many people here die from heart attacks and suffer from high cholesterol or hypertension; many others have low hemoglobin.

Meat is important.

Our religious santeros know this full well, which is why they ask for chickens and sheep in exchange for their spiritual conjuring.

Maybe all this is why I get such a tickle from the crusade against illegal beef.

The authorities adopt pleading or threatening tones. They’ll first tell us that because of such theft the country cannot improve. They then resort to showing us detailed lists of how many years in prison await if you have any “inappropriate contact” with cattle or beef.

They haven’t found the solution, which could be something as simple as allowing the breeders to be the true owners of the livestock and not making simple farmers face costly fines for any accidents suffered by these animals.

For now, we can only hope they’ll get over this aversion and that our modern-day cattle rustlers will continue putting beef on our tables, relieving us but not curing us of this pathological hunger for meat.


Daisy Valera

Daisy Valera:Soil scientist and blogger. I write from Mexico City, where Havana sometimes becomes so small that it disappears. However in others, the Cuban capital is a city so past and present that it steals your breath.

3 thoughts on “What we need is meat

  • i agree- you don’t need meat. in fact, eating meat is UNHEALTHY. Just look ast us westeners- we are dying from heart attacks and cancer at alarming rates- why? because we eat way too much meat and dairy- the diet of opulence. it is much better for our bodies to eat fruits veggies and seeds and nuts. i would hope they would put their energy in producing that. Cattle is actually bad for the environment too.

  • Anna,
    excellent!

  • I will never understand the Cubans almost religious belief that a human being cannot survive without meat. I lived in Cuba 92-94 in a suburb of Havanna, with a Cuban libreta and I was quite happy with the rice, beans, tomatoes. eggs and carrots I could get.
    One day I had lunch consisting of heated rice from the day before, rice, two fried eggs, one tomatoand a neighborgh came to visit me and was extremely shocked: “Don´t you have anything to eat!!!!!???” I explained to her that my lunch was a very normal lunch for a European on a hot summer day. But she told the whole neighborhood that I was starving.
    When I told my Cuban friends that meat isn´t necessary for vegetarians in the first world, nor for millions of Indians in Asia, they wouldn´t listen and answered me: ” The Cuban body is special. It needs meat to survive”. Sic!

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