Nostalgia for pizza

pizzas_santiago.jpg

It arrived in force in the seventies to break the grayness of the rationed market.  Amid the daily rice with beans, pizza invaded us with its novelty and its colors.  Each province built a pizzeria and created its own recipe, a source of dismay for any Mediterranean chef, but how captivating to the islanders.  Thick, with a lot of tomato and crispy edges, thus it was recorded in the minds of several generations of Cubans.

Then came the crisis of the nineties and the local Italian food places sold only an infusion of orange peel and cigars.  We were filled with nostalgia for the lasagna and spaghetti tasted in the “golden” decades of the Soviet subsidy.  The topic of food was inevitable when friends got together and, on that theme, pizza aroused the greatest longing.  When the pressure of hunger and discontent exploded in what was called the Rafter Crisis in August 1994, the government authorized self-employment.  From the hands of those enterprising purveyors the lost products returned, made with flour.

Many Cuban workers today depend on “street” pizza, sold by private hands.  They substitute pizza for the deplorable lunch served in their workplace.  However, for several months, supplies have been scarce in the family enterprises.  The prolonged raids against the informal market, a result of the crisis in the wake of the hurricanes, has strangled the food sellers.  Without the diversion of state resources, few could make it in self-employment where they can’t count on a wholesale market.  There are fears that “street” food will end up being sold only in convertible pesos and thus become inaccessible.  And so we have the joke going around: some people claim that, tired of so much adulteration, the pizza finally packed up and went home to Italy.

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80 thoughts on “Nostalgia for pizza

  1. Pingback: Visit Dystopia - Armando Bronca

  2. memomachine dice: 15 Febrero 2009 a las 19:01

    Hmmm.
    0000000000000000000000

    My answer to your comment in the new posts

  3. Hmmm.

    @ Carbo

    “A strong, rich and independent Cuba would be a strategical problem to USA.”

    *LAUGH* Do you really believe that?

  4. Hmmmm.

    @ Carbo

    “USA is a country that acts exactly like others countries in the world, I mean, USA acts simply in accordance with their national interest.”

    Then I have only one single simple question:

    What “national interest” is served by invading Iraq, spending $700+ BILLION dollars, 4,000+ dead Americans, 65,000+ injured/maimed Americans … and then leaving permanently?

    What -business- of America is served by this?

    And please don’t say “oil” because you and I both know that Saddam Hussein would have -loved- to trade oil to America in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. Saddam made deals with everyone, particularly those countries on the UN Security Council, in exchange for covert support. And of course the UN itself.

    Before the invasion we paid market prices for Iraqi oil.

    During the occupation we pay/paid market prices for Iraqi oil.

    After the occupation we will be paying market prices for Iraqi oil.

    No free oil. No discounts.

    So what “national interest” did the liberation of Iraq serve for the United States?

    Other than bringing freedom to an oppressed people and a chance for them and their children at liberty and prosperity?

  5. memomachine dice: 12 Febrero 2009 a las 16:25

    When you feel alone and threatened, even if you really aren’t, then everyone appears to be an enemy.
    Can Cuba come back from this? Can it happen without massive support from a major nation like the USA? Because what has happened in Iraq is that the USA spent both money and lives to earn the trust of the Iraqi people, even those that don’t like us know that they can trust us, who then were able to trust each other. Once it can be proven that you aren’t alone and threatened then trust can appear.

    Can this mutual trust happen in Cuba after so many decades of political prisoners, people informing on each other and state controlled theft?
    0000000000000000000

    Wow Memomachine!!!!!…………. I am very wondered by your black and white way of understanding the world and your country foreign policies !!!!!
    USA is a country that acts exactly like others countries in the world, I mean, USA acts simply in accordance with their national interest. Don’t try to find other hidden reasons in USA’s action. The people of Iraq knows it and hopefully will act in accordance of their national interest………….. if they can !!!……… it has nothing to do with truth, Relationship between nations is grounded in each country national interest………. nations acts like mobsters: everything is business, nothing is personal. The stronger and powerful a nation the bigger the possibilities of achieving it national interests. The less cross crossed are the national interests of 2 countries the more amicable and harmonious will be theirs relationship.
    Relationship between Cuba and USA has been shadowed along the history by the huge disparities of each country national interest. Cuba’s situation in the middle of America and all other strategical characteristics of the nature of the island are well know and we don’t need to explain it here. All those characteristics made of Cuba a strong candidate of being a powerful and rich land, in fact, Cuba was one of the world richest nations even under Spain control. A strong, rich and independent Cuba would be a strategical problem to USA. That was one of the main factors that impulse USA to help Spain maintain control over Cuba while USA gained force to go in war with Spain and take control over Cuba.
    And the same factor still affect the relationship between the 2 countries. For USA is still better a poor Cuba then a rich one that’s why USA helped castro to take the power and help him to maintain it. You asked:

    Can Cuba come back from this?….. Only if the world power balance change in such way that for USA become better transform Cuba in a real allied and let it be…..or……… both countries decide become one, what is not an utopia thinking in the amount of cubans living in USA……… or……… USA get so week that the balance of power between both countries change radically.

    Can it happen without massive support from a major nation like the USA?…….No, it can not. But the kind of help Cuba needs will be never given by USA (see the reasons above) and the kind of “help” you are thinking about will not “help” (you will find the reasons above also)

  6. TO ALL COMMENTER ….. THERE IS A NEW POST AND…….. WE ALL HAVE MOVED THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Hmmmm.

    “#17 Let me be the first to say, respectfully, I don’t think that the Cuban people and their Island are for sale.”

    @ #18

    Sorry for that. I didn’t intend to suggest that Cuba was for sale. I was trying to suggest that the -Castros- were for sale.

    *shrug* Is it possible for Cuba to ever be free? Considering the vast bureaucracy that has developed for so many decades. Considering the near-permanent changes to Cuban society over that time span. Isn’t it even more likely that even if the Castro brothers were to die/retire that a new strongman would arise?

    Here in the USA we had a lot of hopes for Russia that have mostly disappeared with the rise of Putin. Russia seemed like it was going to develop into a democracy but that turned out to be an illusion because the society needed to support a democracy had either never developed or had been destroyed. In the end the only thing that has worked there was the rise of a strongman.

    It’s like our experiences in Iraq. Iraq was once a democracy that was demolished, by the British, and turned into a fake monarchy and then into a dictatorship by Saddam. During Saddam’s reign he so traumatized the Iraqi people that they simply could not -trust- either their government or their fellow citizens.

    When you feel alone and threatened, even if you really aren’t, then everyone appears to be an enemy.

    Can Cuba come back from this? Can it happen without massive support from a major nation like the USA? Because what has happened in Iraq is that the USA spent both money and lives to earn the trust of the Iraqi people, even those that don’t like us know that they can trust us, who then were able to trust each other. Once it can be proven that you aren’t alone and threatened then trust can appear.

    Can this mutual trust happen in Cuba after so many decades of political prisoners, people informing on each other and state controlled theft?

  8. Carlos Servia:

    Viet Nam and China are on their way to becoming free sometime in the future, and it probably won’t take fifty years. Nevertheless, both of those countries are culturally far and away different from Cuba. They have never experienced, nor have they been exposed to anything close to free elections or freedom of thought. In fact, for thousands of years they’ve been ruled by either emperors, dictators and/or communist chairmen.
    I don’t know what you mean when you say cubans will have less freedom if there is free travel for all. What freedom are they enjoying now?

    To Ian Salisbury:

    I understand and respect your international perspective regarding how the regime could adversely affect world order if changes are made in how we deal with Cuba. However, for the purposes of this blog and my humble perspective, I pursue, and think the overriding goal should be freedom for the Cuban population. And I believe they are better served by a change in tactics.

    The disgust felt by many, including older Miami relatives, should be set aside. Whatever goods and possessions were lost long ago, whatever mugging they were subjected to by the dictators thugs at the airport upon departure, it’s all in the past and should not interfere with the overriding goal. Forget all that stuff, it’s no longer need it. Notwithstanding the current economic situation, exiles are mostly doing exceedingly well. Playing the regime and being a good tactician is the way of achieving the goal.

    Regarding the letter from the unfortunate political prisoner, I respect and totally sympathize with her situation. However, there is an equal if not greater number of Cubans on both sides of the straits, including Yoanni, Martha Beatriz and others, who if I’m not mistaken, think the status quo should be adjusted.

  9. Those who continue to beat the “embargo drum” should read the news from today’s “The New Herald” in Miami.

    Historic record sales from the United States to Cuba in 2008 amounted to a number never seeing before; $710,000 Millions.

    Above sales are paid in CASH by the butcher of Cuba, see the capital letters in the word CASH? Yes, CASH. Why on earths should we grant them credit, why?

    I know exactly what some of your answer to this will be. I got fooled once, not any more. Let them paid in CASH.

  10. Ian you are with me on the embargo.

    Some of the people who write on this blog have paid no attention to the letter written by a mother in jail (see #11 & 47), they continue with their agenda, blaming the United States for not wanting to cooperate with “Free Credit” to a failed system.

  11. Ian, I have heared more of the richness of the leaders of Cuba. Is there any proof for that somewhere? How do you know that? I am curious!

  12. I don’t think anyone is fooled. Fidel is one of the world’s richest (ex) heads of state, with a personal fortune of well over a billion (his thuggish brother, perhaps half that), and he didn’t get it from honest toil. Much derives from slavery – fat-cat multinationals pay him in hard currency to exploit his serfs, who are paid in turn in his worthless scrip – but the rest comes from organised crime – mainly narcotics and money-laundering. A further good reason for an embargo which limits his international influence.
    Incidentally, the embargo hasn’t “failed,” as many people here suggest. It is a continuing reminder of the disgust at the regime felt by decent people.

  13. LOrion dice: 12 Febrero 2009 a las 04:48
    Do you know if foreign tourists brings drugs in or try to get them there? That will ruin any country easily….Look at South and Central America and Mexico….and Afganistan were they produce 90% of the worlds heroin. That is my fear for you.
    0000000000000000000000

    Dear LOrion, until 1975 Cuba’s streets were drugs free. In those times being called “Mariguanero” (Marijuana smoker) placed you in the lowest moral status. Culturally it was very bad seen have to do with drugs. Cuban people were a drug’ free people. But the tyrant decided they needed more cash than the $5000 millions the soviets delivered yearly.
    They created a special department and they called it MC. This department had to do exclusively with illegal but very profitable things, for example, smuggling of weapons, gemstones, people, high technology and drugs among a lot of more things. MC was a very successful project under the direct supervision of the castro clan. Colombian drug lords were very happy with the efficient collaboration of the cuban partners but USA were very unhappy with this situation. USA gave the first blow to this happy corporation by catching general Noriega. USA gave a second blow by presenting proves that showing the cuban connection in the international drug smuggling. Castro understood immediately he was the next to be blew, he was then in urgent necessity of showing the USA he was innocent. Then he decides to sacrifice some of his generals and collaborators and started the circus known as Cause #1.
    Some not loved generals were executed as well the heads of MC department. The tyrant escapes the punishment by sending other people to be punished. The MC were dismantled, the colombians drug lords were captured.
    For Cuba all had changed, it was no more a drug free place, the auto-inoculated cancer started to do its work.
    MC were dismantled but the good fellows that made it work were still there, unemployed and with all contacts and knowledge needed for starting again as self-employees. Having no longer the possibility of sell the “items” to dealers in USA they turned theirs efforts in, the cubans was the new prospects.

  14. WOW. Everyone…This is a wonderful post. Imagine..just a little sweet comment about missing Pizza…and look what you have produced! It’s amazing.

    I hope you will all be safe still after this: We all are fighting, we all are free and we all together are giving the dictatorship a jab in the nose, but this time the dictatorship can’t see where comes the hand from because we are fighting now in a different way. Dictatorship can see a Yoani, a Marta Beatriz but can’t see the thousands behind, that’s why they think the thing several times before putting in jail the ones that are in the front.

    I am a new reader, but as a physician fairly wise about human problems. I do not know Cuba…that is why I read this…and I have set it up as a requested Pledge on Change.org that people read Yoani and you every day to learn.

    I tell you what I am most afraid of if your economy changes too fast…especially by American tourist dollars…is the drug trade.
    Do you know if foreign tourists brings drugs in or try to get them there? That will ruin any country easily….Look at South and Central America and Mexico….and Afganistan were they produce 90% of the worlds heroin. That is my fear for you.

    But the desire to have freedom… is as we say an inalienable right. Good luck to you.

  15. Cold in Chicago dice: 12 Febrero 2009 a las 03:00

    Carbo Servia:
    0000000000000000000
    Chicago, your mathematical formula works only in one way……. What you and S.Voice are defending is the right of US citizens to be free for making the cuban people less free!!!!
    Is the same case of China or Vietnam, the US citizens are free to go there and support with their monies the criminals regimens in those lands.
    Yes is a very free thing for americans only!!!!

  16. SilentVoice dice: 12 Febrero 2009 a las 02:30

    As you can see you are not yet free since you are afraid of them.
    Loose your fear and you will gain your liberty!
    000000000000000000

    Cuban people have learn how to fight a tyranny supported by all superpowers in the world, We learned it in a very hard school:

    In the beginning we acted like kamikazes, we went without shield, without armory, almost without weapons directly to meet in frontal attack an enemy backed openly by the whole Warsaw Pact and also backed from the shadows by whom we believed were our allies, USA. The cost of such a immature act were tens of thousands of dead fighters, tens of thousands of jailed fighters, millions of emigrates and 50 years dictatorship.
    After such a horrendous defeat the cuban people got crouched and still is crouched waiting for his time to revenge. We learned that with such powerful enemies we can act like tough boys and we learned that each one of us have to find the better way to fight in accordance ones possibilities and limitations. Some of us can do like Yoani, some of us can do like Paya, another can do like Boitel, others can do like Mitad, or Gorki, or Sargent, or Antunez, or Roca, or Andy, or Servia (no Servo, please), etc.
    We all are fighting, we all are free and we all together are giving the dictatorship a jab in the nose, but this time the dictatorship can’t see where comes the hand from because we are fighting now in a different way. Dictatorship can see a Yoani, a Marta Beatriz but can’t see the thousands behind, that’s why they think the thing several times before putting in jail the ones that are in the front.
    It doesn’t mean that everybody has to go underground, but for some of us that do other things aside this blog and other of us that has maybe a handicap in theirs life that can put them in a disadvantageous situation if the dictatorship take notice of theirs identities is better to keep a low profile.

  17. Carbo Servia:

    My apologies for the misnomer. Between breaks I get in the computer and rush to enter my two cents. I think we are close in our discussion. Since some in these blog make generous use of mathematical symbols, to make it simple, please consider the following:

    Free commerce = free speech = free movement = free thought or
    freedom = freedom = freedom

    When the cubans came to the U.S. looking for freedom, it wasn’t just freedom of thought. It was freedom to open your own business, freedom to prosper, freedom to speak up, freedom to move, etc. They are all related. You restrict one of the above, you affect all the other freedoms. Conversely, if you free up one of the above, the others will also show up or be affected sooner or later.

  18. SilentVoice dice: 11 Febrero 2009 a las 22:23

    I hope you have just come to the realization that even outside of Cuba and even not being Cuban you have being affected by the Cuban governments policies and restricting of individual freedoms. I believe this is something you mentioned in some other post that you wanted to experiment for yourself!

    This is the mechanism of reward and punishment used by the Cuban government we have being referring here!
    00000000000000000

    Congratulations!!!
    It were not to hard of understanding.
    Society polarization is only the beginning, commies greatest dream is to drive this polarization out of the borders of commies countries. They got it through the “Cold War” in the past era of bipolar world. Now they are trying of revival this international polarization through Chavez and the Gang in the international arena and through Delahunt and the Miami’s Dissidence in the local scenario.

  19. Carbo

    Yes, I was born in Cuba and live there for 26 years so I know perfectly well how does the system work. I refuse to be afraid. I want my freedom and the only way I can do it is by expressing whatever I think with my own name. I believe we should all do the same.
    It should not be a secret for the Cuban government or their security apparatus that I did not like the system when I decided to go into exile as it is true also for you and the many others that have prefer exile to living in a country without freedom.

    As you can see you are not yet free since you are afraid of them.

    Loose your fear and you will gain your liberty!

    Please joint us.

    Julio de la Yncera

  20. #
    Cold in Chicago dice: 11 Febrero 2009 a las 22:44

    To Servo:
    00000000000000000000

    Dear and cool Chicago………. I am very grateful and happy about the new nick you decide to give me: Servo!!!!
    It sounds like some part of a motor or an electromechanical part……
    You said
    My definition for improvement includes economic, political and free speech. How has this improved over the last fifty years?
    Dear friend, the roll we exile cuban can play in this big complot against the cuban people is too little as to pretend to get more than we have got. We have got a lot despite of being a factor tied to the internal regulation of the more powerful nation in the world, suffering the abandon of a world driven by a leftist stream that turn a blind eye to all crimes in our country, fighting not only “our tyrant but also as powerful supporters as the Warsaw Pact, China, etc
    I believe you are asking to much of us. I guess you are thinking in the cuban people inside the island when you wrote what you wrote.

  21. Andy and S.Voice you both seems to be cubans or cuban descenders that have never lived in Cuba or lived too little there as to comprehend how evil the mob that controls Cuba is.
    Please, listen my advice:

    So long you are not a very famous and influential person in the international arena, keep a low profile and don’t let the tyranny know who you are, otherwise, the tyranny can act on you, your family inside and outside Cuba, your rights as cuban citizen and your relative rights as cuban citizen. They can even act on your personal integrity and freedom. Remember, the castro mob kills, punishes, incarcerates, etc. They have a long arm. One thing is “to not be afraid” and other very different thing is to be dumb and make it easy for the castro mob.
    Only famous people like Yoani, Paya, Marta Beatriz, etc; are out of the mob vendetta because the world knows and protect them without knowing it!!!!…………… for the moment!!!

  22. the idea that SOME American citizens… in this case citizens who previously lived in Cuba or whose relatives previously lived in Cuba — should be given a special ‘right’ that is denied other Americans is COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS AND OUTRAGEOUS.
    00000000000000000000

    Why it seems so ridiculous and outrageous for you?????? if you compare it with the US policy about Cuba along the last 50 years you will find that USA helped castro take the power, helped him keep the power and still defend him by not allowing cuban exiles take the arms and fight . Then you have a US government that have contribute to create 2 kind of cuban citizens: the “free” ones in Florida and the slave ones in Cuba. Why then you find rare we try to keep a difference that will have a beneficial effect over our landsman inside the island. Don’t try to separate US gov and US citizens of this problems….. US citizens elect US gov. then they have to take responsibility for their acts.

  23. To Servo:

    The fact that exiles have some influence on their relatives is due to a loosening of the travel restrictions which makes my point about loosening up the embargo as a whole. Passing this off as an improvement of the last fifty years is ludicrous. My definition for improvement includes economic, political and free speech. How has this improved over the last fifty years?

    Regarding American tourists coming to Cuba, I think if life improves for the population as a result of more commerce and tourism, then so what if the tourists come and spend more money, get sunburned, etc. This would represent a change which could eventually lead to more freedom. You know the dinosaurs won’t be around much longer, mother nature is catching up with them, and they are, in a naturalist’s parlance, failing to adapt. Evolution is doing its work and will be helped by ending the status quo and creating more economic freedom.

    The situation with prostitution and/or sex is one that gives pause for thought. I think the cuban government, whether the dictatorship or a future, democratically elected president should control that by proper education, restricting visitor visas and otherwise warning visitors and discouraging the behavior. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, this has been done in Australia in dealing with visiting sailors, and also in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. where the local city government completely did away with the Spring Break activities twenty years ago by passing ordinances. Fort Lauderdale attracted what was locally considered “undesirable tourists” mostly students, not big spenders, that wrecked havoc on the citizens of the city and its teenage girls and boys. Talk about somebody peeing on Marti’s statue, these tourists were peeing and engaging in love making on people’s front lawns.

    This type of tourism from whatever source not just American, should be prohibited, as it can do damage to the fabric of the culture and society of any country. In some respects, I would hope Cuba does not go back to the fifties and earlier.

  24. I hope you have just come to the realization that even outside of Cuba and even not being Cuban you have being affected by the Cuban governments policies and restricting of individual freedoms. I believe this is something you mentioned in some other post that you wanted to experiment for yourself!

    This is the mechanism of reward and punishment used by the Cuban government we have being referring here!

    Quot erat demonstrandum or Q.E.D.!!!

  25. But Andy with regards to

    “Well… I cannot judge other people since I don’t know if I would be a Yoani, or too scared to breathe and I haven’t had to find out!”

    you yourself a minute ago admitted on #50

    “I want to be able to travel to Cuba. I don’t want the government to say “ah…. you commented on Yoani’s blog… you can’t come in.”

    and then follow by

    “But I don’t really care about that. you’re right. If they want to deny me entry because they don’t like my politics… that is the price I pay.”

    and as you see you yourself have become a victim of the Cuban governments policies!

    The long hand of the Cuban government have affected in some small way your individual freedom to speak against what you truly believe as unjust!
    And you are not even a Cuban!

  26. #52 You are right…. if everyone were brave like Yoani… Cuba would be free… or else everyone there would be dead… one or the other. It could not continue as now. I remember a friend I made there and when I emailed and asked him how I could directly help the hurricane victims, not through the government, he sent me a long email back saying oh the govt was doing such a good job and would take care of everything… I should work through the government.

    I knew he didn’t believe that. I knew how he lived in Cuba… everything on the black market, sneaking around here and there, always looking over his shoulder… but he was so afraid in email.

    Well… I cannot judge other people since I don’t know if I would be a Yoani, or too scared to breathe and I haven’t had to find out!

  27. on regards to #51 Unfortunately when you are born the same way you are not allow to choose your own parents you also can not choose your own country.

    The fact that Cuba is an economic disaster.
    The fact that the Cuban youth wants to abandon their homeland.
    The fact that people in Cuba do not want to have children.
    These are all consequences of the Cuban governments policies.
    The Cuban government should admit this is their own fault but is easier to blame someone else.

    For every decisions any government makes there is consequences (intended or unintended).
    Some decisions stimulate or activated certain behaviors and some will produce the contrary effect.
    We can see that the Cuban government masterfully knows how to achieve the docility of its people. Can we say that they did not know the consequences of their policies?

    For example If they allow Cubans to travel without restriction what are the consequences of that?
    Well, Some people may abandon the island but some others may return. I do not see anything wrong with either.
    In fact for the Cuban government it will be beneficial to get some Cubans to return receiving pensions from other countries or if they are still young they can be put to work.

    The Castro regime specifically punishes people that are doctors with 5 or 6 years of not letting them go out of the country just because they receive a “Free” education. Is it free then? Did we not all have to work for free for the government when we study ? Didn’t we and our parents and grandparent work for the government with salaries that will barely payed for the food we could eat?

    We could have achieve any of the so call revolutionary fruits like “free education” and “free health care” with less cost to the individual, without paying the high price of loosing all our individual freedoms.

  28. Andy on 50

    I am not personal saying you in particular I am referring to the great majority of people posting in anonymity while many of their comments are valid I think they are less powerful since they do not put a name attached to it.

    The reasons why I think Yoani’s message is so strong and powerful is because she is daring to tell everything from Cuba and identifying herself totally and accepting whatever consequences that may come from her actions.

    The blog itself becomes a silent witness of peoples fear towards the regime!

    All those anonymous post are a testament to their fear.

    If we all did what Yoani does then we will be free!

  29. About the Cuban government having the right to deny entry:

    Well we could argue that one for a long time, but I think it’s clear that there is a recognized right of all countries to control who comes into their countries, what they do there and how long they stay.

    We may not agree. We may think the whole world should be ‘open borders’ and maybe it should be. But… I know the world’s population would flow quickly to the more developed countries by the hundreds of millions… looking for a better life.

    Maybe it would work. Maybe the whole world would settle into an “equilibrium” and everyone would be better off. I don’t know.

    But I think that we can’t deny Cuba, and more than any other country, the right to control entry to NON-citizens, even if we think they are doing so for the wrong reasons.

    I know the US makes bad decisions about who can come in, who can stay, who can work, who can become a citizen… every country does. But I wouldn’t deny their right to set some kinds of limits. If you didn’t do that you would have to immediately go to a one-world government!

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