Garlic braids hang ready for purchase.
Assorted vegetables and fruits were on offer.
Tour member Anders Evertsson gets some fruit for lunch.
Our tour guide, Ernesto, gave us each a crisp 20 peso bill in the local currency to spend at this market. It was chiefly for the experience of it, and it was fun. Tourist are required by law to us Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) but our guide knew that this one of the few places we could use the local money without raising any uncomfortable questions.
CUCs traded near the Loonie. I got 420P and some change for $500 CDN. Based on that, for those better at math than me, you can sort out what a 20 local peso note was worth.
I bought three small sweet bananas for one peso. A papaya was 3P, and a pineapple was 8P.
This was also the most veggies we saw during the whole two weeks. Starches are big there, but vegetables of the non-starch variety are a rare find. We had them twice on our plates, I believe.
I often ordered a salad. A tomato salad is a thinly sliced tomato. One on occasion it was green. Of course I ate it anyway. Oil and vinegar or lemon was often the accompaniment although in the case of tomato I am happy with salt. That's good as it was often only salt.
A cucumber salad was sometimes available and one occasion all the restaurant had was lettuce. I ate a plate of lettuce and was happy about it as it calmed down my disturbing mental images of a crisp assorted green salad with 1000 Island dressing. I crave than dressing once a year, about this time of year, and I make my own. It's in the fridge now and the craving is nearly subdued, but I had a few difficult moments on the trip.
Most meals had a rice and beans accompaniment and a reasonable slab of meat or fish. Pork was common, as was chicken, and while beef was available I didn't try it as when the oxen are too old to work they are sold to the government (this is mandatory, a farmer cannot kill his own bovine) and become meat.
One of the local starchy veggies is a malanga. It's tasty enough and very potato like. One evening the restaurant served it as the side dish. It was thinly sliced and became the equivalent of potato chips. They were tasty and as I'd been craving potato chips they were welcome.
I saw potato chips twice the whole trip. They were "Mr. Potato" brand which looks eerily like Pringles chips in the tube container. These were made from potato starch, potato flakes, potato something else that I have blissfully forgotten, and bleached, refined coconut oil. I was going to get them anyway, but they were 3.95 P for a container and my craving was not that strong.
To wind this up on positive note the country doesn't have much for junk food and there's hardly any litter. Related? You tell me.
The Big Idea: Beth Cato
2 hours ago