CAMAGUEY._ Mandioca bread, or casabe, has been a staple food whose recipe has been passed on from generation to generation in the rural Vilato community since the 19th century and remains on the menu in many local eateries.
For this reason, almost a dozen families in the aforementioned community in the northern municipality of Sierra de Cubitas, keep this Cuban Taíno tradition alive. Archeological studies demonstrate that in Cubitas, more than 600 km east of Havana, a casabe-consuming Taíno settlement existed long before the Spaniards came to Cuba in 1492, and continued to exist until the early 16th century.
Rural activist Gil Adrian Rubio told The Havana Reporter that during and after the colonial period, more than 30 groups dedicated themselves to the production of casabe in Vilato alone.
Sixty-six year-old Oscar Nápoles inherited the tradition from his father who had a large but rudimentary casabe bakery that used the same original drying, milling, and baking techniques as the aboriginals.
Another casabe maker, José Leyva, explained that it takes 8 hours to dry the mandioca and that all the equipment in the community’s micro factories is locally manufactured.
Daimi Ruiz, director of the Camaguey Cultural Diversity House, said that casabe still forms part of the regional diet in various parts of the country while it is one of the most ancient and authentic surviving indigenous recipes.
Casabe was also an essential part of the diet of the 19th century Liberation Army that pioneered the Cuban revolutionary movement during different stages of the independence struggle against Spanish colonial rule.
Mandioca bread was not only an aboriginal staple food, but was also a part of the initial diet of the Spanish conquerors, where the refrain “in the absence of bread, eat casabe” comes from.Share on FB Share on TT