Rats-on-a-stick: Cuba touts 'nutritious' rodent meat as healthy, 'sustainable' food

Socialism, it seems, always boils down to being forced to eat some kind of rat.

That was the case in Chile during the early-1970s Salvador Allende period, where my old Chilean college roommate told of seeing canned rat meat imported from Maoist China on store shelves there.

Now it's true in Cuba.

According to a detailed report from Frances Martel, writing in Breitbart News:

In an alleged attempt to promote nutritious eating on Tuesday, a news broadcast on Tele Mayabeque, a Communist Party-approved network, revealed that the Castro regime had organized a meeting with chefs to design meals featuring guinea pig meat. The broadcast also encouraged Cubans to "socialize the experience of raising the guinea pig" by the entire family.

Cuban officials, the reporter explained, sought to promote the alleged health benefits of eating rodents "to incorporate this animal protein to the family table."

"According to the experts, the average protein content [of guinea pig] is 19 percent, superior to porcine and bovine meat. Its consumption is a clear ally against anemia and malnutrition," the reporter claimed.

To "elevate the culinary culture" around eating rodents, the report detailed, the government asked a group of Cuban chefs to design new meals around guinea pig as a core protein. One chef noted that they designed 11 dishes, but ran out of time. Ideas left on the cutting room floor included rodent meatballs and hamburgers.

It's barbaric.  Guinea pig is not a Cuban food, as Martel notes.  Cuban food, now largely unavailable in communist Cuba owing to socialist mismanagement, revolves around pig and cattle.  Guinea pig meat is simply cheap rodent being put forth as an alternative to actual Cuban food, which the government can no longer provide.

Sure, they're using guinea pig meat, rather than actual street rat, as their food of choice, but we all know what they are getting at.  Guinea pig, like pigs and cattle, would need to be imported from someplace else, because Cuba under socialism, same as all places it's practiced, simply cannot provide food.  Its central planners disrupt supply chains, cut access to capital, and prevent any flexibility due to changing conditions.  When it gets its hands on some kind of meat, it mismanages the supply.  So now the regime is hoping the guinea pig catches on and at least some people can grow their own, which won't happen.

The idea is not at all different from what Nicolás Maduro tried in 2017, foisting another rodent, rabbits, onto households as substitutes for the country's once abundant, and now missing, meat.  According to Reason magazine, writing in 2017:

In a bizarre, but apparently serious attempt to feed hungry Venezuelans reeling from the Latin American country's descent into chaos over the past year, Bernal, the Venezuelan Minister of Urban Agriculture, has begun issuing rabbits to 15 communities to breed and raise as a source of protein.

Bernal said he hoped the "Rabbit Plan" would help change the country's "consumption patterns," away from chicken and beef, to rabbits, which he claimed were often eaten during wartime, according to the PanAmPost.

The "Rabbit Plan" has already run into some resistance. Most Venezuelans, it seems, aren't cooperating, choosing to "put little bows on their rabbits and were keeping them as pets," Bernal said Wednesday, according to the BBC. "A lot of people gave names to the rabbits, they took them to bed."

During a cabinet meeting, President Nicolas Maduro promised a widespread public relations campaign to convince Venezuelans to view the raising of rabbits for food, and not as domestic pets, the BBC reported.

The Cubans controlled Venezuela at that point, so it was probably their idea, though they might have gotten it from the Soviets.

Like all socialist central planning, it failed spectacularly.  Why did they keep them as pets?  According to David L. Veksler, who lived through the days of communism in what was then the Ukraine, it wasn't their food, and as people played with them as bunnies, it was pretty clear that the people who got the rodents weren't the starving.  Worse still, he noted, just as the Cuban government proclaims, the meat is in fact high in protein, which in a starvation situation isn't what people require.  "Rabbit meat is so low in nutrients, those trying to survive exclusively on it can still starve to death," he wrote.

Guaranteed it's the same deal with cute, cuddly, guinea pigs now touted as the answer to "sustainability" and the lack of protein. 

Guinea pig, in fact, is a pricey special-occasion delicacy called "cuy" in Andean countries such as Ecuador and Peru, subject to special sanitation requirements, eaten whole, and often roasted on a spit.

According to this account, written by a lefty backpacker type in his travel blog

From a personal point of view, I would definitely recommend Cuenca's restaurant 'Tres Estrellas' in which to try guinea pig. One portion of Cuy is good to share between two people and also comes served with potatoes, beans and corn. The average price of a guinea pig between two people in Ecuador is around $25. Whilst this is pricey in comparison to most local dishes, it is generally only eaten on special occasions and is considered to be a delicacy in these areas.

Having been to Ecuador and Peru, I can tell you, the locals prefer steaks, la parilla, something the Argentines, in a little known fact, actually borrowed from the Peruvians (and they all cook them spectacularly well).  Guinea pig is not common.

What it boils down to is that the Cuban government is desperate to get some kind of nutrition to its locals, having largely shut down its productive private sector, lost access to big remittances based on President Trump's clamp-down on them (remember: they harmed our diplomats and Antifa'ed dissidents), and refused to do things that normal nations do to provide food.  They don't want to do that, so now guinea pigs, sure to be a failure, are the claimed answer, with a side of virtue-signaling for the Western lefties. 

This will turn out like all other socialist schemes and amount to a bust.  But it should be remembered that any nation that is stuck in the throes of socialism and cannot get out will eventually find itself eating cats, zoo animals...and some kind of rat meat.

Image credit: Pixabay public domain.