More than My Own Friend

Jorge Milanes Despaigne

Cuban pig. Photo: Caridad

Since remote times in the past, pork has been one of our traditional dishes here in Cuba.  The animal is raised with the food from the house (leftovers), or in the best of cases with the royal palm fruit – our palm trees offer as a nutritious food.

A pig that is stuffed with “Moors and Christians” (black beans with white rice) and that is cooked on a stake is the ultimate.

In the house of a Cuban campesino, a roasted pig cannot be lacking during a celebration; without it the party loses its flavor, or —as “Juana the Cubana” Bacallao would say in good Cuban— it has no “sabrosura!”

But not everyone is in a situation where they can to raise pig on royal palm, because this can only be obtained in rural areas.

These new times have imposed other ways of feeding.  I have a friend who would give his pigs mackerel heads.  He would even make hog feed from fish and egg shells.  Consequently, when the long awaited day finally arrived for him to demonstrate the astounding effect of his great sacrifice, the poor guy’s disappointment was great.

Don’t feed pigs too much sea food if you don’t want to run the same risk as my friend.  The pork was no longer pork.  I never tasted worse fat from such an animal.

However, he would not be the sole person bitten —and how!— by the fatal surprise.  His dissatisfaction was experienced even by his neighbors, who each received a piece of the normally desirable meat and even some fat for making pork cracklings.  However, to their astonishment, it all had a bitter fish flavor.

I admit that I also fell for that unexpected fallacy of fate, because the day they sacrificed the pig, I had sharpened my teeth, seduced by the fantasy of succulent pork.  I was looking forward to the meal perhaps more than my own friend, when he turned the stake to the right as much as to the left of enthusiasm.