Scrambled Powdered Eggs, a ‘Life Vest’ for Hungry Cubans

A package of powdered eggs from Argentina (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodriguez, Havana, 20 January 2023 — The the powdered eggs she bought last month are past their April expiration date. They also cost her 1,000 pesos for a one-kilogram package on the black market but Lucy doesn’t care. This is the only option for housewives who want to provide their families with this particular source of protein. When they are available, the cheapest price for fresh eggs is never less than 1,700 pesos for a thirty-egg carton.

Two tablespoons mixed with six tablespoons of water is the equivalent one egg. The unusual flavor, which Lucy describes as having a “packaged” aftertaste, can be corrected, she says, “with a lot of seasoning.” The Central Havana resident cooks it like scrambled eggs. She first sautés onion, chili pepper and rosemary, dissolves the powder egg in water and adds it to the pan, finishing it with a little tomato sauce. “It is delicious though I know some people only add a little salt.”

Powdered eggs are not available in any store — neither state-run nor private, neither for pesos nor for hard currency — because they are reserved for the Cuban processed food industry. Rather than an ingredient for omelettes, they are used in pastries or other preparations such as pancakes, croquettes and panetelas [cakes]. The goal is to prevent contamination from salmonella, which fresh eggs can carry.

Lucy points out that only the reason she able to get her hands on the Argentina-made product — the expired expiration date being a clue — was because someone “diverted” it to the black market, which provides some relief from the island’s endless shortages. To save money, she bought only half a package and split it with her sister.

“I remember there were eggs during the Special Period. People called them ‘life vests’,” she says. “Things have gotten so bad that now they come powdered and expired.”


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