Carnal Delights in Cuba

A friend celebrated his 40th birthday a few days ago and invited his closest amigos for a party – one of those blow outs with a guy posted at the door to keep out crashers, a DJ spinning cool sets, and the liquor flowing ‘a full’ as we say. The type of party Cubans call ‘tirando la casa por la ventana.’ When I asked another friend, formally invited, if he was going he said: “yeah, I’ll be there. But it’s bound to be a fiesta de chorizo.” It took me a moment to get what he meant – that the male to female ratio at the party was going to be grossly imbalanced, there would be 10 guys for every woman. It would be, in Cuban argot, ‘a sausage party.’

Later that same day, another friend was telling a tale about a recent liaison, saying it was a ‘palo de cebolla.’ For those around the table who didn’t understand, we explained that an ‘onion shag’ is when the girl has a killer body but a face only a mother could love: you lift her dress above her head, tie a knot, and get down to business, her ugly face hidden from sight. Sausage parties and onion lays got me to thinking about Cuban diversions, including sex, and how so many of the terms and phrases involve food. There’s a certain logic going on here since eating and screwing, food and partying share many of the same senses, are sensuous and fulfilling in equal measure (when done/cooked right).

As the wheels turned, I began recalling all sorts of expressions that mix the bedroom and the kitchen. For example, it’s hard to miss the double entendre in Los Van Van’s popular song ‘don’t bother knocking, the black guy is cooking.’ I started picking the brains of friends and away we went. The most obvious is the classic ‘papaya.’ When you’re in Havana and crave this juicy, coral-colored fruit, you best ask your produce purveyor for ‘fruta bomba’ – because here, papaya means pussy. I remember once a group of tourists invited me to eat at La Guarida, Havana’s most famous and in-demand restaurant and laughing out loud as we perused the dessert menu. The chef’s suggestion was ‘papaya pie’ and I explained to the table of yumas (yes, I used to sing for my supper, but no longer) that it was obvious they put it on the menu just to hear foreigners order ‘pussy pie.’

Terms and turns of phrase for the sex act (and fluids), are almost always referring to foodstuffs. Semen is called ‘leche’ (milk) or – as I’ve just learned, writing this post – sometimes as ‘lágrimas de chorizo’ (sausage tears). When you haven’t been laid in a while, you have ‘queso’ (cheese). It’s a veritable charcuterie around here, I tell ya. Talking to my next door neighbor the other day, I learned another relevant sex act phrase when he told me he was going to ‘jamar una heva’ (devour a chick). No matter that he’s married. A quickie, meanwhile, is known as a ‘palo de conejo,’ rabbit being a popular protein in these parts. There are also derogatory terms that I refuse to use including ‘tortillera’ (egg scrambler), loosely translated as ‘dyke.’

When I have questions like these, I go to the experts. In this case, I consulted Alfredo, a street-smart Casanova and all around good guy. Seems Alfredo is a breast man for all the terms he rattled off the top of his head for different kinds of tits (he also provided illustrations): bananas (with nipples pointing skyward); fried eggs (with large aureoles); and orange piths (saggy and sucked nearly dry). He also provided tons of food-related terms for penises: banana dicks curve up, cucumbers are a catch-all phrase for the male member, and my favorite ‘pene de Pelly.’ For those of you who have never gone searching for food here at midnight, been to a baseball game, or ventured to a Ditu, you probably don’t know Pelly, but it’s our Cheese Doodle. Garlic flavored. You can imagine the rest.

I’m sure there are many more; if you have a favorite, please do drop a line – I’m always anxious to broaden my vocabulary. Regular readers of Here is Havana know I’m a huge fan of Cuban slang and sayings (dichos). One of my recent acquisitions makes an apt close to this post: ‘come pan para no comer más pinga.’ This is a handy phrase for whenever a Cuban is being a douchebag – you only have to say ‘come pan;’ they’ll fill in the blank.


Filed under Americans in cuba, Cuban customs, Cuban idiosyncracies, Cuban phrases, cuban words without translation, Expat life, Living Abroad, Relationships, Travel to Cuba

24 responses to “Carnal Delights in Cuba

  1. When my Cuban partners is sees the craving in my eyes, she will tell me that “Este huevos necesitan sal”. This eggs needs salt. Greetings from Holguin, Cuba.

  2. fred

    Great read Connor! Ola to Alfredo, S and the Cuba Libro Gang. Mucho Amor, su “Yuma'” en Oakland.

  3. Jim Davidson

    Hi Connergo

    Love your blog.

    I do have to ask, I know there is a shit load of Alfredos in Havana but the one I know has worked for you for a short while. He was dating a singer at that time. Is this the same guy you mentioned in your latest blog.

    If it is tell him I should see him in the fall.

    Thanks Jim from Canada


  4. Adaora

    These sayings are so dirty, funny, and creative at the same time. “Este huevos necesitan sal” took me out. Lol

  5. You are awesome! Kai Schoenhals

  6. Dave McCorquodale

    As always a Fun read…love Cuba!! Cant wait to get back in July! One of these visits I’ll swing by your Cafe 😉

  7. Your post reminds me of the film, Like Water for Chocolate, where the girl, denied access to her lover, makes a rose petal sauce to show how she feels. Food and sex..can’t wait to get to Cuba and here these colorful colloquialisms, if they could be considered such…With my spotty Spanish, this Yuma will be making lots of gaffes, and inciting lots of laughter, the stuff of good old endorphins! Thank you for such a good, deep hearty laugh first thing in the morning!

  8. Earl L. Kerr

    Thanks again Conner for your open views on the real human condition !!!

  9. Mauricio Diaz

    This one may have won you the Pulitzer! Haha. Great blog and subject!

    I think that, as much as Cuba Libro may be the only reggeton-free area of the country, you could have given Mr Osmani Garcia some credit on this matter.

    Suffice it to say that “pudín” and “chupi chupi” (Chupa Chups may have got him sued) are obvious new additions to the vernacular! My gf’s “pudín” is a wonderful treat any time of day or night! 🙂

    • She was already a graet writer many years ago when she wrote the LonelyPlanet Cuba Guide 🙂

      • Thanks amigo. I’ve just come back from 5 days in the Escambray for my new book 100 Places Women Should Go in Cuba (Travelers Tales) and throughout the adventure I kept thinking: I am SO glad Im no longer writing the Lonely Planet (too much grunt work, not enough travel/writing involved in that gig!)

  10. Muñequita

    Hi Conner, I love your blog. It’s making me miss Cuba more and more. My Cuban husband introduced me to such nicknames. He calls mine “cebollita” and I would call his “platanito.” 😛

  11. John

    Thanks Connergo! Again, you’re entertaining and educational. I’ll be back next time I’m in Havana.

  12. Well, in Holland if we buy Chorizo, the sausage is cut in very thin slices, they won’t like that he 🙂

  13. Conor, when does that book for Travelers Tales publish?

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