Playing at Capitalism / Rebeca Monzo

The Nuevo Vedado neighborhood is excited. In the blink of an eye, four new restaurants have sprung up, very well put together, and a few cafes, not to mention a number of improvised timbiriches — small kiosks — where their offer various products doubtfully handled.

The new paladares, private restaurants with this name — meaning “palate” — born of popular ingenuity — and, like almost everything that becomes popular on my planet, came from a Brazilian soap opera broadcast on TV. Thus arose the paladar, to differentiate these first restaurants — which started up more than 15 years ago — from those of the State. Of the original, few remain. Now, with the new ones, there is hope of an opening, something more serious and fundamental than previously, the fever seems to have spread like a pandemic. In the background, lies the unspoken: to retake the truncated capitalism of fifty-two years previous. Their new owners proudly call the “Restaurants” with a capital “R.”

All this is very good, healthy, and brings new color to the neighborhood, the city and the country. The question that comes to mind is the following: Will there be enough demand for everything that is in offer?

In my travels, this Saturday at noon, camera in hand, I visited three of the new premises, as well as the already renowned La Casa. What most caught my attention was that they were all empty. Their respective owners very kindly showed me the facilities and allowed me to take photos.

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The Garden of Miracles

Everyone comments that the prices are too high, but they have their logic: The products and supplies are not sold to their owners at wholesale prices, as they should be. They have to shop at the hard currency stores and in the expensive farmers markets, to get everything to produce their menus. They also have to pay inflated taxes, plus the salaries and social security for their employees, the electricity at a very high price per kilowatt, and also have to keep the inspectors content so they don’t become too fastidious.

In any event, something is gained and the lost appetite of citizens for private property is restored, without the absolute dependence on State paternalism that has already caused so much damage. Let us continue, therefore, playing at capitalism.

July 16 2011