Rice vs. Corn Flour for Cubans

Por Esther Zoza

Rice is king in Cuba but nowadays its only around for part of the month.

HAVANA TIMES – Recently, rice shortages have buried me in a bitter and fruitless search that ends up with me buying corn flour, which I could only eat after separating weevils out of it.

Rice is a staple of our food culture, and it’s irreplaceable in our diet. Few of us care whether it is long grain or short grain, whether it comes from Vietnam, or Brazil or Timbuktu. 

We don’t complain here. We have overlooked its aroma, texture and color, even the little bugs that come with it. We have dressed it up in so many ways during times of shortages, as well as in times of abundance.

What Cuban hasn’t browned rice with brown sugar when soy sauce runs out, or colored it with polivit tablets when bijol, seasoning, tomato puree or turmeric run out.

Rice has been with us through our ups and downs, it has got us out of a tough spot when we only have loose threads of chicken and pieces of meat. We have enjoyed it as arroz imperial, fried, stir-fried, with seafood and as a dessert. Worshipped it even with vegetables and eggs, seasoned with garlic and onion or bathed in a bean stew. 

Reducing rice flour consumption nowadays with the economic crisis, adding other grains and pastas to our diet, is a pressing matter that reveals a high level of judgement and empathy in our homes. 

Our elderly can’t consume corn flour every day, especially if we bear in mind the fact that they suffer from high blood pressure. A meal of corn meal without high blood pressure meds could give us a good scare.

In times of shortages, we need to give priority to our elderly family members with rice. Of course, this means detaching yourself and making a sacrifice.

It would be wishful thinking that with the economic crisis the world is facing today, our country would be able to have as much rice as it did before COVID-19, or that our fields suddenly turn green with healthy rice shoots. 

Instead, this time around, I believe that it would be good for all of us to come together in a joint prayer for our survival.

Esther Zoza

I was born in the 60s. I love my country and its simple and sacrificed people. I like the arts, particularly literature. In music I enjoy traditional and contemporary trova, also opera and instrumental music. I respect all religions. I like esoteric and mystical subjects; I also enjoy the enigmas of the universe. I believe above all things in God. I am persistent and disciplined to meet my goals. I like the countryside. I live near the sea. I believe in relationships and love in all its manifestations.


16 thoughts on “Rice vs. Corn Flour for Cubans

  • August 9, 2020 at 7:34 am
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    I think the last two comments have gone out of sync.
    Never mind.

  • August 7, 2020 at 7:25 pm
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    There are contributors here that like to paint a certain picture. And that would be their prerogative to do so.
    I wouldn’t say that the picture they paint or story they like to tell is does not include certain valid points. But yet again I feel it necessarily to mention that some folks are just none too happy to let the facts get in the way the story they’re trying to tell. And they just get a touch riled up when the facts clearly contradict their narrative.
    Having pointed that out, I must admit that I had a big old chuckle when I read that Mr MacD suggests that I am guilty of going off-topic ???
    That’s surely like the Sahara Desert accusing the Pacific Ocean of being dry…….

  • August 6, 2020 at 12:14 pm
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    All this Nick, when the article was about food supply!

    I again got a good giggle out of your tongue-in-cheek comment from “someone whose opinions are not based on blind adherence to some ideology or other.”

    Good one Nick!

    I am delighted that Cuba following its initial blunder in February of encouraging tourists because Cuba was “Covid free” dealt swiftly and efficiently with the pandemic.

    As for your amigo fchow8888, why would HT act in conjunction with the CIA when Cuban security is controlled by the KGB trained Alejandro Castro Espin? That undoubtedly is a more ruthlessly efficient organization than the CIA.

  • August 5, 2020 at 3:03 pm
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    Oh My Deary Goodness Me…..
    It’s the dreaded but somewhat limpid old Pincer Movement emanating from Misters P and MacD.
    It seems that these guys cannot understand someone who’s opinions are not based on blind adherence to some ideology or other.
    All it takes to incur the wrath of these supposed supporters of democracy and free speech is the application of the slightest hint of context to their one eyed, one sided, ideologically inspired opinions and look what ensues:
    Accusations of being ‘lickspittle’ or ‘sly’ or being some kind of sycophant. Accusations of having made a personally abusive comment etc etc……
    For those who constantly criticise Cuba all it takes is the slightest reference to the fact that Cuba is proving to be way superior at dealing with this pandemic than the USA (or the U.K. incidentally) and look what happens.
    It’s not a rumour. It’s a fact.
    If you live in Cuba, you are far less likely to die from Covid than if you live in the USA.
    Overwhelmingly less likely.
    This may prove to be a big disappointment to you good ‘ol boys from an ideological perspective, but it is nevertheless, an incontrovertible fact.
    Deal with that incontrovertible fact fellas rather than thinking up the next lame insult…….

    The difference between rice or corn flour is only of any importance if you are still alive.

  • August 4, 2020 at 4:36 pm
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    Why don’t you offer to replace the sadly missed Elio! As you correctly observe, most of the articles are by Cubans and reveal the depth of problems which are apparent in Cuba. Elio was almost unique (not quite) in always lauding praise upon his political masters.

  • August 4, 2020 at 4:29 pm
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    Oh Nick! Your constant defence of the Castro regime whilst simultaneously posing as being unbiased is so trite.

    You can always be depended upon to attack the opinions of those who are critical of the Castros and communism. To that, add constant insertion of criticism of all things related to the USA – although of course, you slyly confess that it is one of your favorite countries.

    Moses Patterson gave a proper assessment of Cuba’s food problem – the subject of the article. But in consequence you found it necessary to make unrelated personally abusive comment. The truth obviously got up your itching nose.

    Holding another contributor as in part responsible for the sins and errors of politicians within his own country – many of which he himself has criticized, is somewhat pathetic. Are you responsible for all the sins and errors of politicians in the UK? Is Boris Johnson your concept of a paragon of virtue – or is it just your bad fortune to be of UK nationality?

    My own preference is for political honesty, hence I have openly admitted being described by those who know me well as a “pink conservative”. You however always endeavor to suggest that you are apolitical. Doing so, kids nobody Nick – especially those who read your comments in HT.

  • August 4, 2020 at 2:48 pm
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    End the Blockade.

  • August 4, 2020 at 11:51 am
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    Mr Circles,
    I said that fchow888 makes a good point which he/she does. I’m presuming that the reference to the CIA was tongue in cheek.
    I didn’t say that I was disappointed with HT – Far from it.
    HT is a valuable resource which provides valuable insight. But I must mention that the balance has taken a hit without Elio’s articles. His one sided articles provided a good counterweight to some of the other writers and certainly to some of more alarmingly one sided commentators.
    I hope he is well.
    If there ever are any envelopes, I commend your denouncements in advance!!

  • August 4, 2020 at 10:12 am
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    Dear fchow and Nick, sorry to read about your disappointment. Please tell your friends to write in about how everything is fine in Havana and Santiago. I’ve seen that too on the evening Cuban government news program and rountable. On paper everything is moving forward with the government plans. It always has, despite the eternal enemy to the North, and development is right around the corner. However, I don’t tell our writers how they should protray their lives or the situation in Cuba as they see it. As far as the CIA goes, which I have personally criticized and opposed my entire adult life, we have been accused of that before. And I always ask where those damn checks or envelopes stuffed with cash are, because I’ve never seen one and would immediately denounce it if I did.

  • August 4, 2020 at 9:40 am
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    fchow8888,
    You make a very good point.
    And I’m pleased to hear that your friends are doing ok.

  • August 4, 2020 at 9:37 am
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    Mr P,
    You are only too happy to criticise Cuba over and over again.
    Yet you don’t like it when someone puts your tired old comments into perspective by applying context. Particularly if that context refers to the failings of your own country. This causes you to resort to hostile remarks.
    You like to think to think that you speak from some position of moral high ground or some position of being exceptional due to your nationality and you don’t like facts which contradict that.
    The USA like my own country has a buoyant food industry. So much so that obesity and Type 2 diabetes are rife. The USA has a high Covid death rate. Each death is a tragedy for the families involved. For the record the U.K. death rate appears to be even worse.
    You claim that your country is exceptional Mr P, but Cuba is way, way, way more exceptional when it comes to surviving Covid. You don’t appear to be too happy about that fact. I’m pleased about that fact coz Cuban people have enough problems.

    By the way, you can’t eat when you’re dead.

  • August 4, 2020 at 6:33 am
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    Well I spoke to three friends in Havana and one in Santiago and they said they were fine. There are shortages, but they are fine. I offered to help but the said they were ok. I don’t know about Havana Times. I loved this publication and contributed photos to it, but for a while now I really question if it is any longer true . . . has it been taken over by the CIA or something ?

  • August 3, 2020 at 10:17 pm
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    Where do I begin? Even a broken clock is right twice a day? The US response to the pandemic has been atrocious. This is an acute problem. The issues in Cuba are chronic. Ironically, authoritarian regimes historically tend to fare better in national emergencies. Americans haved failed to control the spread of the virus, in part, because we are blindly led by our fierce independence from government mandates even when those mandates are in our best interests. My teenagers will sometimes do the dumbest things. I think the do so at times because they simply don’t want to do what I have asked them to do (so as to avoid doing dumb things). Anyone who has had teenagers, I am sure, can relate. As I have often responded to Castro sycophants who scrape the bottom of the barrel in defending the failed Castro dictatorship by finding fault in some other country by reminding these lickspittles that this is a blog about CUBA. If one chooses to wax on about the problems in the US (there are now even more under Trump) should try the New York Times. This is H-A-V-A-N-A Times.

  • August 3, 2020 at 5:50 pm
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    The usual stuff from the usual crew. Never pass up an opportunity to crow over how bad things are in Cuba huh?
    Mr P has anyone pointed out that folks in the USA are getting on for 100 times more likely to die from Covid than folks in Cuba. For all it’s troubles and hardships Cubans are so much more likely to survive this pandemic than your compatriots.
    It is a truly terrible tragedy. Each U.S. life lost to Covid is a tragedy for surviving family members. These are terrible and shocking facts given the relative wealth of the two countries.
    How can you explain these facts away?
    You’re very quick on the draw when it comes to describing and explaining Cuba’s failings Mr P, but how do you explain the awful tragedy unfolding in your own country?
    Cuba’s agricultural policy is a disaster. That’s obvious.
    We can all agree on that.
    But, despite all its faults, Cuba is apparently almost infinitely better at preventing it’s citizens perishing from Covid than the USA ??
    It’s a good job Cuba gets some things right.

  • August 3, 2020 at 1:17 pm
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    As sad as it is to read yet another post about yet another food staple shortage in Cuba, is it just me or are we becoming numb to the reality of increasing food insecurity in Cuba? If it isn’t rice, it’s sugar. If not sugar, it’s potatoes. Or something else. If Cuba was located in sub-saharan Africa in the midst of a years long drought, the lack of such basic food items could be explained away. But the fact is that Cuba is smack dab in the middle of the Caribbean. Everywhere you look on the island is green all year round. There is simply only one reason that Cuba can’t feed itself. It’s C-A-S-T-R-O.

  • August 3, 2020 at 1:11 pm
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    Esther Zoza demonstrates why the only remaining hope for Cubans lies in a deity.

    The Castro communist regime is recognized as an abysmal failure, but there is no available method to discard it.

    The rot spreads.

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