June 4, 2010
Havana, Cuba
Elevation: 0km
Humidity: under water

Coppelia, the catheral of ice cream. It supposed to have 100 flavors of ice cream. El Jaffe himself loves ice cream so much (and micromanagement) that supposedly he picks the daily flavors himself.

When I was doing research for this trip, Alma’s book “Dancing with Cuba,” talks about how her friends would line up at Coppelia at 10am so that they would be able to have ice cream after dinner. This was in the 60’s, at the beginning of the embargo. Out of the 100 flavors promised, there is only 1 available, strawberry.

My friend orders 3 orders of ice cream for us, each bowl contains at least 2 large scoops if not 3. He tells me how his high school is only a few blocks away and that they used to come here and have eating contests. The most any one of his friend ever consumed was 25 bowls of ice cream. I am not surprised. I have been watching the other patrons here and no one has just one bowl of ice cream. There was an old lady that ate 4 bowls, took at least another 3 bowls home in a container that she brought w her and stole the spoon as well. In the mean time, the guy at the table in front of us is on his 6th bowl.

Granted the ice cream is not great in quality, slightly icy and not too creamy. But really, how can anyone put away that much of anything? I almost wonder if the speed and quantity of ice cream that gets consumed has some sort of correlation to their dedication to Fidel. Or perhaps after 50 years of sacrifice, over consumption of anything feels like a little bit of indulgence, a little bit of freedom.

In typical contradiction style of Cuba, 50 years of over promise and under deliver, there is only 2 flavors of ice cream available here at the cathedral of ice cream. Chocolate and orange.
Charlie Grosso

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