How Fidel Castro challenged the US with regular ice cream
How Fidel Castro challenged the US with regular ice cream

During the formation of the socialist state, Fidel Castro faced many problems. In fact, he became an ideological opponent of the United States, which viewed Cuba as a foothold for the Soviet Union 90 miles from Florida. Washington placed the Guantanamo Bay military base near Cuba, which could house 50 warships. But far more unpleasant for Castro was the cessation of the supply of dairy products to Cuba.

Fidel Castro

The lack of supply of dairy products became a real problem for Cuba, because Comandante himself was very fond of ice cream and milkshakes based on it. We can say that since the time when his comrade-in-arms and fighting friend Celia Sanchez presented him, a young revolutionary, with an ice-cream cake as a birthday present, he became a fan of this dessert.

Fidel Castro treats Senator George McGovern to ice cream

Later, when the uprising ended, he lived for a time at the Havana Libre Hotel, where he enjoyed milkshakes from the cafeteria. Fidel Castro's passion for ice cream was so great that CIA agents once even devised a plan to eliminate the Comandante, according to which they tried to poison his milkshake. In an interview with Reuters, the retired CIA general admitted that this particular plan, more than ever, was close to eliminating Fidel.

Fidel Castro with ice cream

A complete US embargo in 1962 cut off Cuba's supply of dairy products, along with other US exports. The problem was that it was impossible to breed cows in Cuba because of the climate that was too hot for them. But Fidel Castro challenged the United States in 1966 to build the world's largest ice cream parlor on a dairy-free island at that time.

The management of this truly epoch-making project for Cuba was entrusted to the same Celia Sanchez. She was the daughter of a wealthy doctor and during the revolution she supplied food to Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, and then she herself joined the revolutionaries, and then for many years was a close friend of the Comandante.

Celia Sanchez and Fidel Castro

This was not Celia's first grandiose project: at one time she led a project for the production of Castro's favorite cigars when the producers fled from Cuba. The ice cream parlor was supposed to open its doors just 6 months after the approval of the project for its creation. Celia Sánchez set a task for the architect Mario Girona: to create a cafe that could simultaneously accommodate 1000 people.

Celia Sanchez

The establishment got its name from Celia herself, who chose the name of her favorite ballet Coppelia for this, and there were women like ballerinas as waiters. For four years after the embargo, Castro worked tirelessly to provide for Coppelia and all the rest of Cuba with local milk. Only zebu cows could live on the island, but their milk yield was too low. By order of Castro, Holstein cows were brought into the country from Canada, but even in air-conditioned barns, they could not live normally. A third of the imported cows have died within a few weeks.

Fidel Castro strokes the Ubre Blanca cow, whose name means "white udder"

But Castro did not give up and said that Cuba would have to develop a new breed that could live and give milk in the given climatic conditions. The Comandante sincerely believed that the development of the dairy industry of Liberty Island is worth investing in.

He passionately wanted to prove the superiority of socialism over capitalism, including the fact that in a socialist society it is possible to produce products of better quality than under the capitalist structure of the state. And the Coppelia Cafe was his prime example. In addition, he believed that dependence on other countries for whatever, sooner or later would become a weapon against Cuba.

Cafe "Coppelia"

True, Fidel never managed to breed dairy cows. Although to all journalists and foreign guests, he proudly showed Ubre Blanca, the best of Castro's tropical Holsteins. She produced four times more milk than the average cow. But the rest of the Cuban cows were still producing very little milk.

At the Coppelia cafe

At the same time, Fidel Castro often gave very unreasonable instructions to his breeders. For example, he could order to cross two breeds of cows that simply could not give successful offspring. Castro's dreams of his own dairy industry were dashed, but Coppelia remained his pride. “This is our way of showing that we can do everything better than the Americans,” Castro told one of the foreign journalists after the cafe opened.

At the Coppelia cafe

It was a veritable two-story ice cream palace, dazzling white and airy. The palace was decorated with colored stained-glass windows and could indeed accommodate 1000 people at a time. And even the guests from the USA admitted that in Coppelia one could taste the most delicious ice cream in the world. Here they offered dozens of different flavors of cold dessert, and for sending to dignitaries and friends of the revolution around the world, ice cream was packed in special boxes with dry ice.

Ice cream from Coppelia

However, even today in “Coppelia” you can enjoy the taste of a dessert beloved by many, however, only a few types of ice cream remain from the former assortment, and the most popular is ensalada ice cream with five balls.

A person's culinary preferences are an indicator not only of his taste, but also a reflection of some personality traits. It is not surprising that the composition of the menu of famous authoritarian rulers is of certain interest to both professional chefs and the most ordinary people. What dishes did the leaders of the countries prefer and what precautions did some of them take for fear of poisoning?

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