Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. - http://www.cubafreepress.org

March 9, 1999. >

HAVANAS'S RULING CLASS STAGES THE FEAST OF THE MILLENIUM By Orlando Bordón Gálvez, Cuba Free Press.

HAVANA - "The feast of the millenium" for the lovers of the much desired "puros" (cigars) was held at the height of the Festival of Havana. The cigar company, Habanos S.A. was the host company and more than 1,300 foreigners from different continents attended.

The grandiose salon of protocol of the Cuban Council of State was the scene of this ostentatious Havana feast. The solon is located at Little Lake, an exclusive area here in Havana where presidents and other foreigners of renown are feted.

This huge party featured a menu especially prepared by the best chefs of Cuba and the world who are working for the tourists who visit Cuba. The cost of the feast reached US$500 apiece.

The chiefs of Habano SA opened the event with words of welcome to many of the famous personalities on hand and gave toasts that brought about the uncorking of dozens of bottles of Moet Chandon champagne. There also were toasts with Cuban rum, Havana Club 7. Later the big-moneyed visitors were able to delight their palates with exquisite aperitifs, including "balotina" of salmon, with vegetables over a caviar mousse, accompanied with the white wine, Marqués de Riscal, limousine reserve, 1995.

The first main plate was lobster fantasy with a touch of cardamom and "cruditis" with warm vinagrette and mushrooms and black currants. Minutes later another plate arrived of equal category but to be served in place: Glazed roast beef with fresh buffalo cheese and avocado sauce. This time the wine was tinted, Marqués de Riscal, limousine reserve, 1994.

The desert included crep bombón and an orange biscuit over slices of kiwis and a coffee crown. To close the feast of the millenium one could select Cuban coffee and a cigar of the best world quality. Also available was the costly cognac known as Cohiba.

The gathering concluded in the formal salon and then the participants visited the splendidly groomed gardens where they found an open bar supplied with the best of the best.

There was nothing especially unusual about this menu for a gathering of the hierarchy of Havana. For the socialism of this tropical island there is more than plenty, of course.

It happened that the menu also was studied at a gathering of about 20 professional Cubans who were having a reunion to remember the glories of their youth when they were students. For their feast they had the usual: Rum of the fourth category, musty snacks and a cake of poor quality "invented" by a housewife who has to make do with what the state offers to the general populace.

The differences between the two feasts were abysmal. Most of the professionals at the second gathering had never heard of the exquisite plates served at the first banquet.* Some of these intellectuals found it impossible to pronounce the names of the dishes. Such items are not even found in the best restaurants of the island, especially those which the lower class of Cubans may attend.

Luxuries such as described may be found, however, in the mansions of the government's high dignitaries.

The feasts of the ordinary Cubans are more likely to include ground "meat" which is loaded with soybean curd or maybe liverwurst and hotdogs, foods that are distributed through rations to the citizenry, sometimes only mascaraded as "meat products."

It was clear that there is no lack of luxurious goods - for those who are either especially selected visitors from abroad or are the protected in power.

* By the way, the names of those Cubans who participated in the gathering of old friends are omitted so as not to jeopardize their safety.

Orlando Bordón Gálvez, Cuba Free Press,


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