Dont even think about what’s going on in the kitchen…

Fruit sellers

‘Let’s get two side salads between three of us and share’.. those dreaded words.  I have a little joke, a quip, not funny at all really but a little tool to deflect debate and conversations about extremism over pleasant holiday dinners with carnivores.  Here it goes again, I always say to people that’s ‘okay as long as you dont use your meaty forks.  If we do that lets get some more forks.’  Of course I’d just much rather get my own side salad and not share it and that’s usually what happens after I mention the meaty forks.  I dont eat meat and I dont want to eat tiny pieces of meat left over from people scoffing parts of dead cow or dead fish.  And in Cuba, dont even think about what’s going on in the kitchen.

At the nearby Hotel Nacional, all leafy lawns and shade, a tranquil antidote to the glare of the modern Habana Libre where we whiled away a few afternoons, they offered to take the ham out of the pre made ham and cheese sandwiches when they had run out of the cheese ones.  I declined.
.Hotel Nacional
The fruit at breakfast is amazing but salads at dinner in various restaurants were usually made up of shredded cabbage or pickled cabbage.  The delicious vegetables many of which are grown in organic urban gardens from the markets dont seem to be served to tourists who can pay for expensive meat.
Following Cuba’s 1959 revolution and the United States implementing the biggest trade embargo in history the Soviet bloc was Cuba’s largest trade partner to the tune of 85%.  Following the collapse of Soviet Union in 1989 Cuba could no longer import the chemicals it had been using in agriculture resulting in the world’s largest conversion from ‘traditional’ chemical led farming to organic farming.


The group I joined in Havana noted an absence of hangovers in spite of all the late night partying and we put it down to the organic rum.


‘It sounds absurd, of course. But the headwaiter at the Hotel Nacional said you gave his dog poisoned whisky. Why should you give a dog whisky at all? I don’t understand. Nor does he. He thinks perhaps because it was a German dog. You don’t say anything, Mr Wormold.’  From Graham Greene’s ‘Our Man in Havana’

8 thoughts on “Dont even think about what’s going on in the kitchen…

  1. Those vegetables did look good 🙂 I try not to think about what goes on in the kitchen too much. Have been in situations travelling where there was literally nothing I could eat, being offered platefuls of meat and/or fish with no vegetables at all, and I almost ground to a halt with hunger, especially when I was trying to be vegan. Sharing a salad with a bunch of meat eaters would have been luxury 🙂 What to do? Some countries you know it’s just going to be a big problem but you really want to go there so it’s a case of getting through a week or so of bread, rice and biscuits. Sometimes I live on my stash of cereal bars 🙂 The other option is a ‘veggie holiday’ where the lack of vegetarian food doesn’t become the big issue of the trip and the topic of conversation at every meal 🙂 I want to go to Africa so that’s going to be … interesting. Hoping to avoid too many ‘bush meat’ scenarios …

    • I found its surprising to see so many fresh vegetables being sold in markets (for the locals obviously) and so few in restaurants. Im really glad I visited Cuba in spite of the confusion over vegetarianism and there were always the Italian restaurants to fall back on. Another reason that ‘veggie holidays’ are good is that no one opposite you slicing into a big slab of flesh is going to say ‘so why dont you eat meat?’!

      Whereabouts in Africa do you want to go? I worked in Tanzania, East Africa and was delighted how easy it was to follow a vegetarian diet. The majority of restaurants were run by Indians families displaced from Uganda. I was invited to a party in a temple in Mwanza where a huge selection of different delicious dishes were served and they were all vegetarian…so East Africa will be no problem (or North with the couscous)…

      • Thank you … sounds great 🙂 Have no concrete plan for Africa as yet, other than wanting to see elephants !! Cuba Martin (sounds like a cocktail) was talking about Zambia. I quite fancy somewhere small like Botswana/Okavango delta … what usually happens is I have the idea rolling round my head and then something appears … like Cuba/Skyros/Berkoff happened along 🙂

  2. Well when it rained it was spectacular but I had a long time there. It pounds down on the roof and leaves and is amazing to watch. If I going on holiday I would avoid this though! In the dry season the animals congregate at the water holes so this is a thing to consider for safaris. The dry and wet season vary from region to region as does the heat. I went on fantastic safaris to the Serengeti. You could also go and see the migration of the wilderbeest..

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