#2 :: Pizza etc

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November 12, 2012 by vivalafiona

10 October 2012

I have just finished watching Barcelona vs Madrid, accompanied by the sound effects of the local children who are all apparently Lionel Messi fans. When he scored his 2 goals the street went made with children yelling goallllllll!!!!! out their front doors and running around with Barcelona football jerseys. Afterward Trinidad was hit by one of the now regular afternoon storms. Lightening and thunder striking directly above but this did not deter the kids who were now in the streets, barefoot and drenched through playing football in a determined effort to emulate the antics of their football hero’s. Hilarious. I remember a time in Santiago, a significant birthday in fact, when I got caught in the rain whilst walking around town with a friend. Children from all around emerged into the streets, some naked others in undies or shorts and played in the streets, dancing in the rain and using the wet slippery footpath to skid and slide down the hills. As most of the eaves in Cuba have developed large holes I couldn’t find much shelter from the rain and so we joined the children dancing in the streets and got soaked through. Good thing about the Cuban weather is that you dry off pretty quickly once the rain stops and the sun re-appears.

Yesterday a friend and I took 2 tourists from Hong Kong out to the lagoon near the beach to go fishing. My tourist guide skills are building daily and I am becoming quite an adept translator. Very few Cubans speak English so I think my skills will be in much demand once I master espanol. The Chinese couple were so grateful they gave me some beautifully decorated chopsticks and a pretty paper lantern before they left for Havana.
Whilst we rode out of Trinidad a tormenta (storm) built up in the mountains behind and 20 minutes later followed us to the beach. My new bike got a bath and my clothes a good rinse. Thankfully rain water does wonders for my hair. I now have curls and waves that once I would have killed for. No need for brushes or combs.
Fortunately the Chinese couple had come prepared with rain coats. The storm brought a fierce wind with it so we were not successful at catching a single fish, but I think they enjoyed themselves. Was a bonus to see locals catching bait, small fish, using a large round tablecloth sized net with a metal chain around the edges and a long rope attached to the centre. The net is flung out like a frisbee and the metal chain allows it to sink down catching anything swimming beneath it. By pulling on the rope which is attached to nylon strings  connected to the chain the net draws in like a parachute skirt. When it is pulled from the water it comes with, hopefully, lots of bait neatly trapped within. We were very successful at catching bait but sadly the bigger fish were not biting.
Luckily for us our host at the Casa Particular (B&B) had fresh fish in the fridge for our dinner. This is steamed with butternut pumpkin or banana on top for flavour and served with a sauce of butter, garlic, onions and cumin. On the side are deep fried malanga chips (similar to sweet potato) and salad made from avocado the size of large eggplants, beetroot, beans and cucumber. Don’t believe people when they say the food is not good in Cuba. Our meal was finished off with Puddin, a cross between a steamed bread and butter pudding and cream caramel, 5 cm’s in thickness.

I wake most mornings to the sound of roosters and chickens in the distance, horses clip clopping along the street below and the local vendors announcing their wares: avocados, home made bread, biscuits and cakes, cheese, fruit and vegetables (currently guava, water melon, pineapple, bananas, green beans, okra, yuka, sweet potato, malanga, small pickling onions).  Imagine having fresh food delivered direct to your door from the farm or the kitchen, and not having to face the queues in the supermarket.
Made pizza the other night for my Cuban ‘family’ with prawns, white cheese (Cuban fetta) and basil. I bought a 5 kg bag of flour (the only one I could find), which is more wholemeal than white flour so excellent for pizza crusts. Unfortunately my banana bread baking has been an a failure to date. I cannot seem to find bicarb of soda or baking powder in the shops, although cinnamon is available. Have bought some yeast imported from Chile but still getting used to the gas oven that does not come with a temperature gage. Didn’t think to bring a kitchen thermometer with me. Did bring a pizza knife!

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