Food at One’s Own Risk / Luis Felipe Rojas

I know the experience very well because I have lived through it. Each week, we had to buy 30 units of quail eggs in order to provide food for my family, especially my children who prefer this specific plate. We had read that they are low in cholesterol, high in iron, phosphorus, and calcium, even more than the traditional chicken eggs. As always occurs, the determination, perseverance, and persistence of my wife Exilda came through.

A friend gave her a large dilapidated bird cage which we fixed up a bit, adding some wires here and there. The result was a cage which would now go for lots of money on the black market. I don’t know how we did it. Her cousins from Santiago de Cuba filled up various flash drives for us with information about the care, diet, and the most basic principles of raising the small birds which are known here as Japanese Quails. A friend of ours traveled to Las Tunas and bought us 17 specimens (three males and fourteen females) which Exilda began feeding with homemade fodder made of ground millet and corn, shredded egg shells (once they’ve been dried out in the sun), and fish flour made locally for an excellent price. The rest has been the love which she puts into them every morning upon changing their water, ‘talking’ to them with delicacy, giving them food twice a day, plus that month which she was there, sitting, with all the patience in the world, waiting for the birds to lose the stress of their trip.

When they laid their first thirty eggs, Exilda conserved them in vinegar and she now serves them to us, which my children and I love. She serves them salted with tomatoes to friends who stop by to visit, and in all honesty, no one can resist such an exotic entree. Since she gathers thirty eggs every three days, she has sold various units and is receiving orders which we cannot fulfill due to the scarce availability of an increasing demand.

She has already started to collect the investment produced by the eggs and has recuperated the expenses of purchasing the birds. We now do not have to buy the 30 eggs each month, which means we save in our home expenses. Since they are minor sales, we have not had the “graceful” visit of the inspectors. We have our fingers crossed so that they don’t show up.

This example has surprised me once again, considering that on numerous occasions her passion has taken us (the family and the friends who know the stories) away from a jam when it comes time to serve the table, when a guest visits the house, or when their are no other foods to offer. It’s an example of what the strength of a woman is capable of when she is determined. I cannot do anything else but lower my head and offer her my support and respect.

Translated by Raul G.

11 April 2012