Life, Culture and Travels from the perspective of a Cuban
Our Daily Rice

Rice is a product that you find on the table of each Cuban family every day. It explains why the rice cooker is so valuable in a Cuban kitchen. When I was growing up there was no way to buy a rice cooker at the regular stores, only a few Cubans had the privilege of owning one, that was either purchased at the “diplomats’s stores” which sold only to foreigners or brought from abroad.

But I cannot remember living without a rice cooker anymore. As soon as the dollar stores opened, (now called the convertible pesos (CUC) stores) and Cubans started buying rice cookers my parents got one. In recent years, even the government, in good business relations with China, has provided a way to buy one in Cuban pesos. I still remember the fuss and Fidel Castro’s insane and long speech about the sacred rice cookers.

These days they are having a different issue in Havana. It is not the lack of rice cookers or electricity to connect them, it is simpler than that, the grain is missing.  The few pounds of rice subsidized by the government are not enough for most families. If you have less of everything else you obviously eat more rice and beans. Before the end of the month people have to go to the street markets (agros) or the CUC stores to buy more. It looks like the government CUC stores are out of stock at the moment and the rice that you can get from the market, which apparently comes from Brazil (yes, Brazilian rice sold at the local market!), is also absent at many locations.

There is no lack of entertainment in Havana. The daily circus is present to amuse yourself, not only watching but participating. Yesterday was the detergent, today the rice… who knows what tomorrow?. The problem is that even having the money, in many situations you have to run around your neighbourhood to find a missing ingredient or a basic product. What stays quite clear in Cuba is that the simple process of making rice could still become a complicate one.

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