Cashews: The Forbidden Fruit of the Socialist Paradise


The furrow extends to infinity before our eyes. We would not, that day either, complete our quota, but who cared? At that school in the countryside we engaged in an exercise widely practiced throughout the country: pretending to work. When the teachers were watching we bent our backs and feigned pulling up the weeds that surrounded the spindly tobacco plants. If they left, we returned to the horizontal position to talk about our principal adolescent obsession which–surprise!–was not sex, but food.

That morning, the irrigation machine was standing in the middle of the field and looked like a wide-winged albatross stuck under the sun. My friends and I climbed into the empty cab and touched the lever, the buttons, the steering mechanism. We jumped on the patched seat and fantasized that we could “take a walk” with this piece of screeching metal and soak all the students with its hose. We laughed in anticipation but not a single drop came from the long hoses extending on either side. However, while snooping here and there we came across a can with some rare fruits. They were shaped like a pepper, but the color ranged from yellow to a deep orange and a seed hung from each one. Urban youth, trapped between the scarcities of rationing and the collapse of agriculture, there was no way we knew that this was a “cashew.”

We sunk our teeth into them immediately. Sweet and soft but later, when our mouths started to dry up, we thought we’d been poisoned. Horrified, we ran screaming. The teacher’s laughter lasted long minutes. When the astringent sensation passed, we were left with the desire to again bite that texture already captured in peasants’ songs, mentioned by our grandparents and painted by brushes of the previous century. I was impressed with that fruit prohibited by our socialist paradise. Almost twenty years would pass before I would encounter it again.

63 thoughts on “Cashews: The Forbidden Fruit of the Socialist Paradise

  1. romilio, what you said is true. There are many deluded people in the world, and most of what Stella said is nonsense. The one thing that is true, that MacGyver attitude in Cuba, is the result of desperation, not an admiration for the TV show. One sees the same “ingenuity” among the poorest slum-dwellers in India. And those in Cuba who do have hard currency coming in waste no time in abandoning their MacGyvers.

    As for Cuban doctors, I know Americans who packed in everything to live in a tent in very unsafe conditions in Haiti and are still there after almost dying through disease or violence there. Unlike their Cuban counterparts, they don’t have much protection, they won’t get any car or cash in return, they don’t steal, and their families are not being held hostage.

  2. Stella, you have said some true facts about Cuba, but this comment “The mainstream media has you hoodwinked. The Beeb, Miami Herald, WSJ, CNN – whatever news profiteer you prefer, they’d have you believe Cubans are cowed, afraid to criticize the powers that be and not willing (or able) to speak truth to that power.”, really shows that you don’t know the Cuban reality or you are being paid by Castro; you cannot openly criticize the Cuban government or its leaders, especially Fidel, every Cuban knows that, saying the opposite is a big lie or just ignorance.

  3. Interesting, I have eaten cashew nuts here in the US, but didn’t know until today that is not an actual nut, but a “marañón” seed, because different than the author I never had a chance to meet one “in person” during my 29 years living in Cuba. Perhaps someday I can sink my teeth in one of those to see if it is true that squeezes your mouth.

  4. Interesante, he comido “cashew” nueces aqui en los EEUU; pero no supe hasta hoy que no es una nuez sino la semilla del marañón porque a diferencia del autor nunca pude ver un marañón en “persona” durante los 29 años que pase en Cuba. Tal vez algun dia puede morder un marañón para ver como es eso de que aprieta la boca.

  5. Albert @58. I copy dissidents because they are the best at complaining and doing nothing.

  6. @#56
    So the best u can do is copy, sad state girl … smart enough to complain but a follower at best for solutions. No wonder the caliber of ur comments.

  7. Yoani writes about cashews, and yesterday I learned Cuba will dispatch doctors to Guinea-Bissau (or already has?), where cashews happen to be the principal crop, the main source of foreign exchange …

    Once hailed as a potential model for African development, Guinea-Bissau is now one of the poorest countries in the world.

    It has a massive foreign debt and an economy which relies heavily on foreign aid.

    Compounding this, the country experienced a bitter civil war in the late 1990s in which thousands were killed, wounded and displaced.

    Guinea-Bissau is also a major hub for cocaine smuggled from Latin America to Europe. Several senior military figures are alleged to be involved in the trafficking of narcotics, prompting fears that the drugs trade could further destabilise an already volatile country.

  8. albert: I contribute to the society by the way of constant complaining, same way as dissidents do.

  9. @#54
    still waiting for the answer to the questions I asked u on post# 52 …

  10. Kirkland, I like this song. “El manisero”. Promoting good life Cubans had before revolution.

  11. @Cuba Libre @10
    Cacahuate is also known as Mani and the person who sell it, is called manisero (peanut vendor) The origin of the word Cacahuate is Nahuatl (mostly in Mexico) and the origin of the word Mani is Taino (mostly in Cuba). Both words are known and used in most Spanish-speaking world. The newspaper that contained peanuts you bought, surely had a cone shape, well this is known as a Cucurucho de Mani (peanut cone)
    You can find a little more about peanuts here in this blog. Go to Home and type this on the search bar “The Little Pioneer and the President” Very Interesting. You can go on youtube and listen the song Manisero Beautiful Song One of the best.

  12. @#51
    so, since u know so much about entitlements … where do u work, what do u contribute to ur society? in between taking the time to make a fool of urself in front of millions of readers ? I agree #50 u are lazy.

  13. To live of entitlements one must work first, not play with the irrigation machine, talk about food and eat cashews.

Comments are closed.