HAVANA, Dec. 12th CUBANS LOVE dulce de leche. The confection of thickened, sweetened milk is an ingredient of widespread desserts, together with tarta de tres leches (three-milk cake) and alfajores.
In a nation the place contemporary milk is scarce, it’s offered in the kind of stable bars, a sugary approach to get a bit of milk protein.
But the bars don’t rise up effectively to Cuba’s warmth and humidity. Mould and yeast spot them, usually effectively earlier than the sell-by date.
So it was a trigger for pleasure when Adriana Rodríguez, a pupil of chemical biology, reported in her grasp’s thesis that she had solved the spoilage drawback. Her analysis was prompted by complaints from customers at shops equipped by Granlac, a state-run dairy agency, which employs her.
After two years of experimenting, she concluded that the admixture of potassium sorbate, a widespread preservative, as 0.11% of the product’s weight would enhance its shelf life from a promised seven days to 30. The new recipe additionally made the bars more durable, and due to this fact much less liable to crumble.
La Demajagua, a state-run newspaper, broke the information in November and different newspapers adopted. Production of long-life dulce de leche is on its method.
This is an uncommon success in a lengthy and largely thwarted quest to fulfil Cubans’ yearning for dairy meals. In a speech in 2007 Raúl Castro, then the nation’s president, declared: “We must produce enough milk so that any Cuban who wishes to drink a glass of it can.”
His brother, Fidel Castro, the founder of Cuba’s revolution, cherished ice cream virtually as a lot as cigars. In a foreword to an ebook based mostly on interviews with Fidel, Gabriel García Márquez recounts a Sunday afternoon throughout which, after a massive lunch, the chief devoured 18 scoops.
He additionally favoured quaffing chocolate milkshakes at the Havana Libre resort. In 1963 the CIA took benefit of this weak point by making an attempt to poison one. The plot failed as a result of the tablet to be slipped into Castro’s shake froze to the wall of the resort’s freezer.
Undaunted, Fidel made dairy items an image of the revolution. He needed to show that Cuba may churn ice cream in addition to the Americans, and outdo the French in making Camembert. In the 1960s Coppelia, a sprawling outside ice-cream parlour in downtown Havana served 50 flavours to 35,000 prospects a day.
But the island’s Creole and Zebu cows have been lacklustre lactators. Fidel ordered the import of Holsteins from Canada, however many perished in Cuba’s warmth. Government breeders tried mating Holsteins with Zebus, hoping to create hardy milk cows. Just one of their offspring lived as much as Fidel’s hopes.
Ubre Blanca (“White Udder”) set Guinness world data for every day and seasonal milk manufacturing. When she was slaughtered in 1985, aged 13, Granma, the Communist Party’s newspaper, printed a full-page obituary.
Dairy catastrophe deepened in 1990 after former East Germany halted meals shipments to the island and the Soviet Union in the reduction of on deliveries of butter. Fidel famously selected to provide ice cream somewhat than butter, maybe pondering it could carry aid to sweltering Cubans.
Things haven’t improved a lot. In October this 12 months Marino Murillo Jorge, the economic system and planning minister, mentioned Cuba may import milk extra cheaply than it may produce it. But since overseas forex is scarce, so is milk.
Coppelia serves fewer flavours: vanilla, espresso, coconut and tiramisu, recollects the latest customer. The solely Cubans who can rely on an everyday glass of milk are these youthful than seven, who get a serving by way of the ration-book system.
For sweet-toothed adults, there’s dulce de leche, quickly minus the mould.
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