Fidel Castro was your run-of-the-mill dictator: He ruled the country of Cuba with firm ideals and intimidating passion. He engaged in heated debates with global powers about cheese. He had the same chocolate milkshake for lunch every day. Wait, what? As Darien Cavanaugh recently explained in War Is Boring, it turns out that Castro had a special place in his heart for dairy products. If you’re feeling a little power-hungry today and want to treat yourself to dairy indulgences like the dictator, try out some of these recipes for a taste of Fidel’s favorites.
Fidel Castro was, in a way, a man of routine. In the early ’60s, he lived at the Havana Libre Hotel and was a frequent patron of the hotel’s restaurant. Every afternoon, he would eat at the lunch counter and enjoy a tall chocolate milkshake. In fact, this became such a consistent part of his routine that in 1961, hired assassins were told to that the best way to kill off Castro would be to poison his daily drink. The plot was foiled, however, and Castro lived to see another chocolate milkshake. We’ve got a recipe for Chocolate Whey Ice Cream that would make a great afternoon milkshake. Our poison of choice is Lindt chocolate, which is probably a great substitute.
Novelist Gabriel García Márquez spent a lot of time around Castro and got the chance to see the dictator’s affinity for dairy up close. In his essay “A Personal Portrait of Fidel Castro,” Márquez writes how “one Sunday, letting himself go, [Castro] finished off a good-sized lunch with 18 scoops of ice cream.” And you thought you had a mean sweet tooth. Castro’s love of the treat ran so deep that he assigned his secretary, Celia Sánchez, the task of opening up an ice cream parlor in Cuba that would rival even the most esteemed confectionaries. They opened Coppelia in 1966 with huge success. At its peak, the parlor served 4,250 gallons of ice cream to 35,000 customers every day. Although Coppelia doesn’t have the same variety today, it still serves up the best ice cream in Cuba and has a loyal customer following. Try our recipe for Goat Cheese Brownie Ice Cream for an equally delicious dessert that doesn’t involve a plane ticket.
Did you ever hear the one about the Cuban dictator who got in a fight about cheese with the French diplomat? I can’t make this stuff up. Castro so badly wanted Cuba to be at the forefront of dairy innovation that he pushed for the production of a “Cuban Camembert.” He believed the Cuban version of this classic French cheese was so divine, that when French diplomat Andre Voisin came to Cuba in 1964, he encouraged the Frenchman to try some of this pride and joy. When Voisin refused to say it trumped the French Camembert, Castro grew quite irritable. Surprisingly enough, this Cuban drama is not amongst the few in our history books, go figure. If you’re craving some camembert, I recommend an indulgent Baked Camembert with Thyme and Honey. There’s no shame in eating this with a spoon, just don’t let the dairy go to your head like our dictator friend.