Bouillon cubes

I argued with a lady in line for malanga root.  She wanted to let her two friends cut in and I figured that if they did I wouldn’t get the ten pounds of food, rationed since the hurricanes.  In the end I let the two old ladies cut the line and didn’t even insult them when the clerk announced, “It’s closed, there’s no more!”  It depresses me to get into a fight over food which is probably why I’m so skinny.  In the pre-university where I studied, I never had the claws to grab for a better share and it always went to the strongest.  When I see myself reduced to fighting for food I feel badly and prefer to come home with an empty shopping bag.  Of course my family offers no thanks for my excessive pacifism.

To console them, I bought a few boxes of bouillon cubes, which has come to be the most common food for the vast majority of the people in this city.  When some confused tourist asks me what a typical Cuban dish is, I answer that I don’t remember, but I know the most common everyday recipes.  And I list them:  “Rice with a beef bouillon cube,” “rice with hot dog,” “rice with a bacon bouillon cube,” or the delicacy of “rice with a chicken and tomato bouillon cube.”  This last one has a color between pink and orange that is most amusing.

If we’re constantly fed pre-digested news on the television, canned speeches past their expiration date, little cubes of patience and waiting to get by day-to-day, why shouldn’t our plates reflect these same bitter flavors.

So I resign myself and buy the happy placebo that will make me believe my rice contains a tasty rib or a piece of chicken.  After the most “complicated” preparation, I put the steaming dish on the table.  My son, smelling the odor, asks me reproachfully, “Why didn’t you fight harder in the line for malanga?”


  1. I ask myself, is it oke to visit cuba as a tourist, and eat food that you would need? How can I help? Or is helping just visiting cuba and eat what you eat and feel what it is to bee in need for many basics?

  2. Your blog is amazing and I check on you every day. Please stay healthy during this food shortage and as an old woman I must tell you feed the children first and no more miss goody two shoes. I’m on the side of your son.

  3. I hope your lack of food problems improve soon. Cuba should have more food–what happened with the rich seafood, and the good agriculture? The people are too thin now.

    Espero que la falta de comida mejorara pronto. Cuba debia tenir mas comida–que paso con la riqueza de la mar, y con la buena agricultura? La gente estan demasiado flacos ahora.

  4. I feel awful for you guys. Having gone through Katrina in New Orleans, our problems were limited to businesses not being open in terms of food stuffs. Once businesses started to open up, the situation loosened up quite a bit. That started 3-4 weeks after Katrina hit. You are two months out from Gustav and Ike and are in this horrible situation. I talked to a New Orleans native today that moved to Houston just before Ike. He is still working on fixing his house, but things are improving there after Ike. Galveston is ceratainly a different story, but much of Louisiana and Texas have recovered from Gustav and Ike. I feel your pain, Yoani. Suerte!

  5. perfect and rich writing,I’ve been there,but never did what you are doing.Thanks for that kind of redemption that you are exercising for all of us,all my respect,allways yours

  6. Cuba is a lost case. En Cuba no aye cojones para tirarse a la calle y hacer tremenda protesta contra el gobierno. Mientras no aiga cojones que sigan comiendose un cable. Lo siento por decir esto pero es la realidad, y si tengo mucha familia alla. Y para las persona que piensen que yo me fui de la isla pues no es a si, naci y me crie en aqui en la US of A

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