Lo Que Pica el Gallo

Hablando de lo que pica el gallo…formando un arroz con mango.

The Domino Effect

As all Cubans know, or should know, dominos in the Cuban culture differs from that of the Dominican or even Puerto Rican game.  Y porque? because Cubans play domino with the double nine ficha. You know, la ficha you were always praying and crossing your fingers for, hoping you would be the one to get it.

This is the staple game in every Cuban household, hands down. This game has caused chaos in many homes, almost as if there was a cucaracha running around with one leg because it came back to life from a previous stomp, deep down every Cuban or Floridian knows cucarachas have 9 lives. Though chaos can occur, so can peace and it usually happens to calm down and entertain the Viejos from complaining “tengo hambre” or “como demora la comida”. This is usually the game of choice on every holiday especially Noche Buena as the pork is being cooked in “La Caja China”. And if by chance a hurricane occurred earlier in the year destroying our precious barbecue tool, we got a little creative and made a makeshift set up in the ground.

This Cuban classic is actually my favorite social ice breaker as well as an activity that brings me closer to family and culture.  Mainly because Dominos can truly bring together all generations; you are never too old to play and never too young to learn.

It’s hard to jot down all the details about Dominos, only because Dominos, at least in my eyes is like a memory trigger, almost nostalgia. It brings back countless Christmas dinners, Noche buenas, Thanksgivings, New Years and even birthdays with family, friends and loved ones.  The rumble of the table as we worked together to shuffle la fichas, the oh so familiar noise of the dominoes slamming each other, and the sound of loved ones and friends talking politics, culture, gossip, work, and growing up whether in Cuba or Los Estados Unidos. The mere sound of las fichas hitting one another just triggers memories of Grandfathers, Tios, Tias, Primos y Primas.

I can’t begin to count the times fichas were misplaced due to the fact that as a kid my brother and I would line them up to create the domino-effect tidal wave, and usually we would lose a few pieces and we thought at the moment no one would notice. First and foremost, we were young and we were stupid, of course our family noticed.  I mean if you walk into any Sedanos, Navarro, or “Pooblix” and see a santero wearing all white you’re going to notice. In the end Abuelos y Tios were en mal humor playing dominos minus 3 fichas. Christmas pf ’97 was definitely not a calm one.

 This Cuban pastime is just one of those memories and activities that have countless stories. It would be a tragedy to try and sum up dominos in one short entry so until I go pay a little visit to Domino Park, voy a echar agua.

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About Lauren

I love Cultures, Cities, and Cuisine. My Abuela's flan is better than yours. I love Miami but my heart is New York.

6 comments on “The Domino Effect

  1. Lourdes Alonso
    August 27, 2010

    Very well written you have brought the essence of a good old Cuban domino game to life. Love it!

  2. Papa Scull
    August 28, 2010

    Well written, like they say the apple doesn’t fall that far from the tree. Now fine those damm dominos you and your brother lost six years ago. I’m telling you, they are somewhere in that house young lady, find it.

  3. LolaLauren
    August 28, 2010


  4. Melissa
    August 31, 2010

    My dad recently played dominos against an old married couple that had cheating down to a science. The old man would ask, “cuantas fichas te quedan?” and his wife would respond, “una,” quickly flashing it at him. It was pretty hilarious and, actually, kind of adorable. Had they not been a cute elderly couple, though, se hubiera formado el show. Love the dominos post. ;o}

  5. Perry P. Perkins
    September 17, 2010

    Just FYI…La Caja China just released a cookbook, “La Caja China Cooking” –

    • LolaLauren
      September 28, 2010

      Got to buy one, maybe can make more use of it

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This entry was posted on August 26, 2010 by in Cuban habits, Cuban Nostalgia, Juegos and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .

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