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El sabor de las volutas

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Magalys Chaviano May. 17, 2019 Historias 314 33

Ya lo dijo Don Fernando Ortiz, el etnólogo cubano, en su ensayo sobre Antropología, Contrapunteo cubano del tabaco y el azúcar: Don Tabaco, refiriéndose a un producto que rezuma identidad, historia y cultura en esta Isla de Cuba. Pero no les voy a contar esa historia harto conocida, vamos a degustarla con Ocilia Cuesta Blackman, una mujer de apellido inglés pero criolla de pura cepa, quien tiene por oficio el catar puros en la Fábrica Quintero, de Cienfuegos.
"Hace 18 años trabajo aquí, primero fui torcedora, luego transité por múltiples funciones, hasta trabajar en Control de la Calidad. Lo de catadora vino después, gracias a la convocatoria del Instituto de Investigaciones del Tabaco, y aquí estoy, 10 años después, disfrutando con placer este oficio.

"Recuerdo llegaron a la empresa unos especialistas del Instituto y nos hicieron pruebas sensoriales. Yo no tengo vicio de fumar, pero le encendía los puros a mi padre y siempre probaba esa primera bocanada. Cuando llegaron los resultados fui aprobada".
Ocilia no es cienfueguera, llegó con su padre, un ejecutor de la Construcción atraído hasta la ciudad por el auge constructivo de los años '70 y aquí echaron raíces. Tiene un hermano que también trabaja en el ramo, son tres, ella la única mujer. Se considera una persona común y sencilla.

"Quienes nos dedicamos a la cata debemos hacer renunciamientos. Fíjate, me debo cuidar el paladar, nada de comidas picantes ni calientes, ni perfumes fuertes... Ah, y no soy fumadora, pienso es dañino para la salud como adicción. Ahora, degustarlo con el placer de meditar, es algo espectacular".
Los ojos le brillan, y cuando indago por alguna anécdota, una blaquísima sonrisa aflora.
"Es sobre algo desagradable, no se lo recomiendo a ningún debutante en el mundo del habano. Recuerdo mi primera borrachera al fumar, nunca la olvido, de solo recordar, siento como si el estómago se me revolviera. Fue muy incómodo, pero devino enseñanza, nunca más me ha sucedido".
Casi convencida de que algunos de sus antepasados estuvo con Don Tabaco en las barracas de esclavos mientras producían a Doña Azúcar, pienso en el ensayo Contrapunteo… y en Fernando Ortiz, considerado el segundo descubridor de Cuba por sus estudios de Etnología. Tengo frente a mí a Ocilia,  no se inhibe y contesta todas las peguntas, Cohíba de por medio, y hasta me animo a probar. Y así, entre volutas, conversamos sobre los parámetros para clasificar como un buen producto.
"La calidad es esencial por el prestigio que tiene en el mundo el tabaco cubano. En esta fábrica producimos para el mercado internacional. Aroma, sabor, combustibilidad, tiro, fortaleza, color de la capa y corte de esta, son algunos de los índices a medir. Si no quema bien, eso ya es un problema; los fuertes llevan tres tipos de hojas. No debemos catar suaves y fuertes en un mismo día... Todo eso se aprende con el tiempo, la experiencia es la mejor capacitación".
¿Y tus orishas? ¿Te acompañan en el oficio?
"Por supuesto, ya te decía, catar es para mí algo espectacular, como un concilio. Soy devota de San Lázaro, a él le ofrendo uno cuando es menester, me lo enseñaron mis ancestros. Son aproximadamente 20 horas al mes lo mínimo reglamentado, porque tampoco debemos abusar del paladar, pero yo las disfruto con plenitud. Fíjate, el tabaco debe ser degustado hasta la mitad, al menos, hasta ahí entonces soy capaz de decir si es bueno o no, y lo establecen las normas".
A estas alturas acerco mi puro a un enorme cenicero para sacudir y Ocilia me pide por señas abstenerme de hacerlo.
"No, la ceniza debe permanecer entera, esa también es una muestra a tener en cuenta. Esta no puede sacudirse como sucede con los cigarros. Su extensión  y consistencia es uno de los parámetros de calidad de un buen Habano. Si la fumada es constante nunca se le apagará, si es muy grande se calentará en demasía tomando fuerza en su sabor, si es muy lenta terminará por apagarse. Al finalizar, este debe quedar en el cenicero, no debe oprimirse, y mucho menos tirarlo".
Ocilia está fascinada con su oficio. De solo escucharla nos adentramos en ese mundo apenas conocido; pero tiene una realidad, dura y difícil, y la hace regresar desde aquel ambiente de éxtasis visto a través de volutas.
“Mi padre falleció, fue duro, era como un patriarca. Ángel era su nombre y hacía honor a él, vino desde Guanajay hasta Cienfuegos, aquí comenzó de cero con la familia. Mi madre vive, o sobrevive encamada. Padece de diabetes, ahora descompensada, le amputaron una pierna, la cuidamos entre mis hermanos y yo, y es duro, muy duro. Siempre fue tan vital.
"Y la vida me ha negado el premio de tener hijos. Me refugio en el oficio, compartir la vida con mi compañero, siempre estoy espantando la tristeza, ese es un lujo, no me lo puedo permitir, tengo un camino largo para andar y he de hacerlo con dignidad".
En verdad resulta una mujer fuerte, la observo, extasiada con su puro, la mirada profunda, como imaginando la manera de solucionar cada uno de los problemas cotidianos a enfrentar. Llegar temprano desde Caunao, barrio de la periferia de Cienfuegos, haciendo malabares con el transporte. De hablar pausado, educada, culta. Cuidando a su madre Claudina, quien fuera la maestra querida por sus alumnos y hoy apenas queda la huella.
"Estoy obligada a madrugar cada día, dejar un montón de cosas hechas y llegar al trabajo en tiempo. Pero siempre trato de estar calmada, eso también es fundamental para lidiar con la calidad, al ofrecer un dictamen, pues este puede afectar cierta vitola producida o a otros colegas".
Ocilia es una mujer común, cuantas veces la habremos encontrado en la "lucha" por alcanzar la ruta 7 en la parada del Parque Villuendas, sin apenar notar es toda una sommelier del tabaco, ese producto del cual nos enorgullecemos y que es cubanía, cultura e identidad. Se me antoja imaginarla en un diálogo con Don Fernando Ortiz, sentados uno frente al otro, en medio de animada fuma, él sosteniendo el bastón, ella con su eterna sonrisa de negra feliz, orgullosa de su estirpe, tomándole el sabor a las volutas.

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