Either the people of old days were made of good material, their genes were early death proof, or they had some fine secret that really worked, but the people of old lived quite some more years than our present generation. And my point is that they used to do quite a lot of the very same things doctors will tell us today not to do. So what exactly gave them that early death immunity?
First watch their diet. Everyone used go fry their fish daily with pig fat known as lard. When folks killed their pigs and made the chicharon, they accumulated as much as one hundred pounds of lard. Not only was it used for all purpose cooking, but the bottom of the bucket that contained the bacon bits (we called it shish) was rolled up in corn tortillas for delicious pig fat tacos. Believe me, there was no meat nor veggies for these tacos, simply lard in a hot tortilla. Another commodity used as much as lard was coconut oil. Coconut oil was used for tacos, to fry food, to make guacamole, and added to boiled ripe plantains for a delicious meal. And these are the first things modern doctors will tell us to abstain from for a healthy diet.
Let us look at smoking. I remember my father’s cigarettes never had the filter that absorbs some of the nicotine. Colonial cigarettes had no filters. Some guys simply went to their patio garden, picked up some dry tobacco leaves, rolled them up and lit them up for a refreshing smoke. Talk about full nicotine, but yet these smokers lived to old age and we never heard the term “lung cancer’. Why were they so strong?
If we turn to the drinking habit there was no refined whisky, beer or special diluted mixed drinks and cocktails. So what did the folks drink back then? Simple answer- white rum on the rocks. You could see them close their eyes as they gulped down an ounce or sip of white rum, but it went down, and so did many more drinks until they got a high; some of them got addicted. No wonder women did not drink; well most women didn’t, except for one or two. And listen to this, when the guys did not have enough money for the white rum which only cost a dollar a pint, they drank Bay Rum, which is a rubbing alcohol for external use only. Even this did not contribute to an early death. There are a few other factors that puzzle me as to the longevity of Sanpedranos’ lives in the past. Women had a lot of children-10 to 25 was the norm and they were all healthy, never mal nourished. And there were no doctors to assist the delivering mothers, only a midwife who had no formal education, only the knack- a gift from God. And how about infant mortality rate? Very low. It was shocking news when an infant died 25 years ago. So what was the secret? Perhaps the fish diet three times a day, six days a week. I tell you, people were made of good stuff.
- by Angel Nuñez, Columnist