We were warned.
As Butthead once said when confronted by a New Kids on the Block video: "Oh, dear lord."
You'd think that a combination of Spanish and West Indian cooking would rock the house, but no. Spice, or any flavour enhancement other than salt appeared to be considered bourgeois. Imagine jerk pork without the jerk.
Breakfast was quite good; a cheese and ham toastie, cup of latte-ish coffee, tiny pieces of toast, jam and fruit juice or squash. Thereafter everything was accompanied by rice, whether potatoes, chips or pasta were already present or not. Actually, the rice was reliable; you can't fuck rice up too badly. Sometimes we had a rather literal rice an' pea. Not black-eyed peas, but garden peas. Green peas. You know. Peas. Like all the other veg, they were boiled to death. The chips were astonishingly bad; there was no difference in texture between the skin and the interior.
The most popular accompaniment was chicken. Always a leg, and always massive. We never saw any live chickens, but we could hear the twelve-limbed monsters roaring and rattling their chains to greet the dawn. Chicken and rice isn't bad, but it gets monotonous. However, the alternatives were shocking. Beef like a giant Shimano brake pad was at least edible the next day in a stew. Eggs that you'd expect to find a magnet under. And the Fish of Doom.
Most of you will know that I'm not a fussy eater. Some of you have seen me drink gravy from the jug and chew lard. Although I don't like chocolate, or raw tomatoes, but this fish was just astonishing. My sense of smell is very poor; because my breathing is so shallow I can't inhale a hearty sample. But as I lifted my first forkful of FoD, some of the steam rising from it entered my mouth, and just the taste of the vapour was very, very wrong.
(I'm eating while I type this, which may be a mistake.) Just before our second trip to Cuba, the island had been hit by Hurricane Higgins. I think the Fish had been picked up off the road a mile or two inland. It was presented to Thea and me twice, but I reckon they got the message after we left it untouched both times. When my dad was there, every time he said "This isn't too bad," I'd tell him to wait until he'd tried the Fish of Doom, but it never turned up. Plantain did, though, on our last day. Boiled MDF.
We did have a few decent meals, by dabbling in a couple of Cuba's other economies. More later; meanwhile, pass me that jug of gravy.