Traditional Cuban Cuisine: from Chicken to Chicken Gizzards!

Jorge Milanes

Chicken gizzards. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES – Chicken is one of the most sought-after meats here in Cuba, just like pork and fish are. It forms part of Cuba’s traditional cuisine.

Years ago, you could purchase this highly valued product, which was imported from Canada, the US or Brazil, according to its packaging. Domestic trade used to distribute it among the population via the food rations booklet or at hard-currency stores.

Of course, only those in a better-off financial situation could buy them in the latter, and the rest would only buy it from time to time to make a traditional dish. Today, our reality is very different. 

Many hard-currency stores barely sell meat products anymore, which means we can only think about the pound of rationed chicken we get once a month via the rations booklet.

A few days ago, I was passing by a hard-currency store on my way to work and I saw a huge line (which is common for Cubans) and I thought they have chicken. When I asked why there was a line, I was shocked to find out that there were only packets of chicken gizzards.

I don’t like gizzards but I still took a place in line to see if I could get a packet, at least to change our daily diet, but a commotion broke out when somebody said that they were only selling a limited quantity.

The police came and intervened among this desperate crowd, so I decided to give up and carry on my way to work.

Apparently, traditional Cuban cuisine will have to change, and our dear chicken will join the long list of already missing products: fish and pork.

Yesterday, it was replaced by a derivative, tomorrow we don’t know if there will be anything else to replace this with. The way I see things, we will be lucky if we can count on gizzards being a traditional dish in a few years time.

Jorge Milanes

Jorge Milanes: My name is Jorge Milanes Despaigne, and I’m a tourism promoter and public relations specialist. Forty-five years ago I was born in Cojimar, a small coastal town to the east of Havana. I very much enjoy trips and adventure; and now that I know a good bit about my own country, I’d like to learn more about other nations. I enjoy reading, singing, dancing, haute cuisine and talking with interesting people who offer wisdom and happiness.

One thought on “Traditional Cuban Cuisine: from Chicken to Chicken Gizzards!

  • Don’t worry Jorge! GAESA will make sure that the hotels have a supply of food. In our town they even had frozen ostrich legs – once!
    “Cuban Cuisine” is for tourists,
    Cubans are just glad to get some food today – but manana?
    Es Cuba!

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