“Pork leg imported from the United States, ideal for Christmas dinners,” reads the ad on one of the many digital sites that promotes products for Cuban migrants to buy from their relatives on the island. The popularly called “national mammal” is year will come from abroad before the collapse of local production.
Just as the Cubans said goodbye to nougat, grapes and cider to wait for the new year, this time it was the turn of the traditional pig on December 31 to say goodbye. The fall in supply and the rise in the price of meat make many families choose to make a meal with chicken or minced meat on these dates.
El Pana, a private producer from Alquízar, assures that “this could be seen coming.” With a large clientele – which included private restaurants and rental houses – the entrepreneur has not offered “even a rib” for more than a year, he explains to 14ymedio. Although the closure of Havana’s borders due to the pandemic hit his business hard, the reason for the decline points the other way.
“The guajiros stopped breeding and the females that had to be put on for riding a few months ago did not put on”
“The guajiros stopped breeding and the females that had to be put on for the mount a few months ago did not put on,” laments the merchant. “This is a chain and when it is interrupted it becomes a problem to start breeding again,” he details. “For two years, when the lack of feed made it more and more difficult to keep the animals, there were producers who left the business and no longer want to return.”
“I myself took apart the corral and the irons that I was using to hold the fences I used them in something else. The people who live near me did the same, and now they would almost have to start from scratch, so I don’t think the lack of Pig is going to be fixed soon, this is going to take a long time to get back to how it was before. “
The chain El Pana is talking about also includes sausage producers, food outlets that based their menu on pork steak or fried dough, as well as all those that offered spices, citrus fruits and charcoal for seasoning and cooking ” the pig of 31 “, as it is also popularly called.
Before, a sign in the agricultural market on Sitio Street near Collado in the Havana neighborhood of El Cerro said “good coal is sold for your piglet”, but he had to change it and now it promotes the product for cooking “pollón” because, he is joking , “the piglet is lost and fleshy.” Among the customers who stopped in front of the ad, there was no shortage of ironies about the possibility that even the chicken will disappear in the coming weeks.
“Soon it will be for his mincemeat, because the chicken is also being lost,” lamented a young man who claims to have seen more assortment in the market compared to other weeks, although it was fundamentally a greater supply of viands, vegetables and fruits, as the Precious pork keeps coming in drippings and there are days when it doesn’t even show up.
“December has not started and the pig is already very expensive and lost. Before this happened to people who left it for the end, those who were late in buying and wanted to have their leg in the last week”
“I bought a pound of pork steak for 200 pesos; if they had told me a few years ago, I would have believed it was a lie,” another Central Havana neighbor told this newspaper. “December has not started and the pig is already very expensive and lost. Before, this happened to people who left it for the end, those who were late in buying and wanted to have their leg in the last week.”
However, the woman considers, “now it is not even worth being cautious because since the beginning of the year the pig has been very expensive”. His family will opt “for another meat, preferably chicken or mutton, if it appears.”
While in other countries it is customary to eat a turkey or roast a lamb, Cuban Christmas is starred by the pig. Along with black beans, rice and yucca with mojo, the pernil dominates the tables. With its preparations, it also generates several family rituals, such as cutting the tops, frying the chicharones and preparing the mojo for the meat.
“Chicharrones can also be made with the skin of the chicken,” warns a clever family man who is already preparing for the change. “I’m not going to wear myself out looking for a piece of pork, now all my energy is going to be devoted to seeing if instead of chicken drumsticks I can at least buy my family some breasts.”
But the breast is one of the pieces that less appear in the markets in Cuban pesos. “In foreign currency stores, people sleep all morning to buy a box of breast and those who have family outside buy it online,” he laments. “But I’m going to look for her even under the stones.”
“The trick is to cook it in the oven and put a piece of charcoal next to it,” he recommends, resigned. “Nothing to envy the roast suckling pig”.
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