November 12, 2012 by vivalafiona
12 November 2012
There are no eggs available in Trinidad. All have apparently been sent to Santiago as part of an aid program to assist the Hurricane Sandy victims. I suspect we will see many other shortages in the next few months as most of the farming districts in the southern provinces were devastated by the storm. Tourism to the south has ground to a halt and as a result there is very little accommodation available in Trinidad as tourists have extended their stay here.
The winds have arrived from the north and most Cubans are now complaining about how cold it is. It’s 26 degrees C or 80 F and even I am wearing a fleece, over shorts and a t-shirt, a light Aussie style fleece. Ok, so I have become a Cuban wimp already and it has only been 2 months.
A wedding, a hurricane and now a funeral. I am getting to experience the full gamut of life in Cuba. Very sadly Alberto, the husband of my host Maritza, passed away this week. I am still reeling from the event as, of course, is the whole family and friends. It was very sudden. He had a massive heart attack after perhaps exerting himself too much during the day and died on a day bed whilst we were preparing dinner. Maritzas screams brought most of the neighbours on to the street and a someone offered his car to take Alberto to the hospital, two minutes drive away. Within minutes, or so it seemed to me, the phone was ringing and people were arriving at the house to ask about Alberto.
People continued to come to the house for the next 20 hours, all through the night and all day long up until the funeral took place at 4.00pm, the following day. Alberto’s body was brought back to the house for the mourners to view, an old Spanish Catholic tradition which some Cuban families still follow. Hundreds of people came to the house to pay their respects, sit quietly and drink coffee up until the time everyone left, on foot, to go to the cemetery. Cubans are traditionally buried within 24 hours.
I think I helped prepare about 300 cups of sweet black coffee throughout the night served with slices of bread covered in a ham and tomato paste/dip they call pasta here. Not to be confused with spaghetti. Thankfully the bakers who work throughout the night will sell bread to people at all hours.
It is likely that I have inherited Alberto’s cat, who strongly resembles Tortuga (my Aussie cat), a tortoiseshell. She decided to join me in my yoga practice this morning, by hanging off my legs and head, during downward dog. I am trying to conjure up images of my yoga and pilates instructors to give myself a thorough workout and reduce my increasing waistline courtesy of the over eating that comes with living in a casa particular. Meals are huge and include lots of white bread and rice. With the left over bread in the house I made my first ‘Puddin’ this week, a steamed bread and butter dessert served cold which sometimes appears on a plate at breakfast or any time of the day, if you are lucky. If you are a fan of old English style puddings, like rice pudding for instance, Cuba is the place to visit.
Found some raisins in a shop this week (packaged in the US) so will put in storage for mango season so I can make my ‘famous’ mango chutney. Almond trees are plentiful here so that is one ingredient I won’t have trouble finding. I also recently discovered that ginger grows in the mountains and that some people do grow chilli plants’, despite it lack of use in Cuban cooking. It is sugar that rules here, not spice. Oh what I wold give for one of my friend Urmila’s curries right now.