By Esther Zoza
HAVANA TIMES – Displeasure has taken over different neighborhoods in the capital. Mackerel, which had been missing from the ration booklet for a long time, has made a comeback, but at a non-subsidized price.
While the fish was still aplenty in some selected markets selling in hard currency, there weren’t any problems. It was good to know that mackerel, which had traveled so many miles to reach our shores, was there, frozen, without tail, head and entrails, for anyone who could afford to buy and savor it.
This is one of the good things about being Cuban, thinking that something exists, even if it’s outside your reach, but it gives you a peace of mind that can’t be explained. Cubans are convinced that if a miracle happens, i.e. some extra money comes in, or some relative in a better financial situation contributes a little, they’ll be able to buy it, even to share it with their cat. However, as soon as this mackerel made a comeback in our ration booklets, everything changed.
People’s enthusiasm in the first few days became a huge wave of comments as soon as they discovered the price. The celebrated mackerel appeared in butchers with its head, tail, entrails, for 20 pesos per pound (0.80 USD), and the corresponding rations table. [While the price might not seem high to people in other countries with the wages in Cuba it’s out of reach for many.]
One fish per 1-3 people, 2 fish per 4-7 people, 3 fish per 8-10 people. Conclusion? One fish might weight 2 pounds and cost 40 pesos but it will only be enough for one meal once it’s been shredded and beefed up with some root vegetable.
Of course, many families have had to renounce the sweet pleasure of separating the meat from bones, while others in a better financial position bought it afterwards at 5 pounds per person.
As you can imagine, many people are upset as we were all hoping that the mackerel, whether it was from the Mediterranean, the South Pacific or even Sri Lanka, would return to our butchers’ at a price the general population could afford.