8/27/2014

The day we ate a cat

That day I was sitting with my friend Lenin and other neighborhood kids in front of the pharmacy. They had diverted traffic from 26th Avenue  to fix the sewer, and traffic flow wouldn´t  let us play on the street. We had fun watching the people trying to  get across, sneaking between the slow moving  cars.

Then we saw a large bus run over a cat. The poor animal had gotten under the bus, and had the misfortune of being crushed by the rear wheels. It was a quick thing, just a little squeal and a faint crunch. My friend Lenin, who spent his time reciting the statistics and achievements of the revolution, was a restless boy. He stood up, looked at the dead cat, and said:

"I think cats can be eaten"




Cat sitting inside a cooking pot (Photo by J. Leza)


I followed his gaze and realized that the wheels of the bus had stripped one of the cat´s hind legs to make it look just like a skinny chicken leg. It looked pretty good.

Don´t get the impression that we were starving just because we were seeing that dead cat as if it were  a steak. But in those days we had to stand in long lines for everything, and sometimes we couldn´t eat well. As Fidel used to repeat endlessly, this was because the yankee imperialists  had left us with nothing to plant in the fields or feed the animals.


Fidel blaming yankee imperialism for causing  
Cuba´s  inability to  grow enough food to feed itself 

So when I saw Lenin grab the cat by the paw, I thought he was  being  a good Samaritan, just removing garbage from the street. Then I thought to myself maybe we could cook it to see what did it taste like. And evidently  so did the others, because suddenly everyone was giving Lenin instructions as he dragged the cat towards us.

Lenin was a very cool guy, and a  good Communist, so he didn´t  try to keep the cat for his family. Instead, he started telling us who could keep which piece of the cat. And because I was his best friend, he gave me the best hind leg, the one which  wasn´t  skinned by the bus´s tires.  

We already had a fire pit.  We had built a circle with large rocks, and we would  put trash and pieces of wood in the middle  to cook birds and lizards, to melt down toy soldiers and to make smoke signals.  So we got the fire started,  found  a sharp stick,  shoved it through the cat so we could put it over the fire. Once it was  cooked, we put it on a piece of cardboard, we  chopped it  and each of us  began to eat his piece of cat.

The thing is that I had braces on my teeth,  and the day before they had taken me to tighten the darned things.  When I started skinning my cat paw using my teeth I realized that Lenin was a wise guy because he had kept the leg already skinned by the bus. Now I had to bite  the damn leg with my sore teeth to peel back singed hair and skin.  I didn´t  back out because if I did nobody would ever offer me  meat for  the rest of my life, but it was really disgusting.

I  removed that awful tasting  hairy skin and I ate my piece of cat.  I don´t recommend cat as a meal because it tasted like shit.  That and Lenin´s  patter about the revolution gave me indigestion.

Now I realize that the problem was in part caused because we didn´t skin it properly, nor garnish the meat with garlic and salt, plus the cooking temperature was too high. 

Lenin spent his whole time talking trash about communism and the proletarian revolution,  but like most communists he was lousy at getting anything done. However, let´s be honest, cat will always taste like shit even if it´s salted, spiced, basted, and baked at the right temperature.  

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