Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Fulfilling our Obligation to Cultural Exploration

Your intrepid correspondent and his trusty traveling companion take very seriously our commitment to serving international understanding by reporting on the subtle differences in culture between Central America and the United States. It is the small wrinkles that make the tapestry of our continent so rich. In Panama, when trying to purchase ourselves some watery local lager to enjoy in the hammocks on our balcony, we were reacquainted with the joy of buying loose cans of beer for 50 cents apiece. But more importantly, just next to all the essentially equivalent brands of beer, we saw a Unique Cultural Experience we had to try: Cuba Libre (TM) Original Formula Rum and Cola Prepared Alcoholic Beverage, pre-mixed and sold in pop-top cans for your drinking convenience.

Do we do this in the U.S.? Maybe I've just never shopped in the right package shops to do all the cultural investigation I should have back in my native land. Or maybe I just walk right by it on the way to the cooler with the Sierra Nevada in it. The only equivalent I can think of is something like wine coolers or pre-mixed mudslides or something girly like that. But how can the homeland of consumer convenience have been bested by its one-time de facto colony in providing a product for people who don't have it in them to mix their own Bacardi and Coke? I demand a Congressional investigation!

There is also an economic angle, of course, as the price point on Cuba Libre (TM) Original Formula Rum and Cola Prepared Alcoholic Beverage suggests that they may not be using top-shelf Zacapa rum, nor true high-test Coca-Cola. (Although since it is billed as "Original Formula," perhaps they had a New-Coke-style failed rejiggering of their secret ingredients at some point.) Your correspondent, having dutifully experienced the joys of said beverage and allowed its cultural significance to fill his senses briefly, moved on to research on the local beer and delegated his trusty traveling companion to do the further required investigation of the effects of consuming an entire can of Cuba Libre brand beverage. Both investigators somehow fell asleep in their hammocks, leaving scant written record to document the encounter fully. The Holla pledges to strive to avoid such lapses in the future, to the extent that seems appropriate at any given locale.