MILKSHAKE IN CUBA

Places

Only my husband knows how much I love milkshakes, that is why he asked me to write about them, but what could I say about milkshakes?

We all know how delicious the different styles are, and the rainbow of flavors…I can only imagine the different varieties that are available around the world. I remember a story my father told me about a trip to Spain, and how he saw a little girl drinking a shake that had lights in it! I have never seen a milkshake with lights or anything remotely similar, but I do remember the milkshakes that my grandmother made. She would make them with fruits from our backyard, there wasn’t much variety, but they were natural and had intense flavor. Loaded with sugar, because as every good Cuban knows, if it’s not sweet it’s not good, and with lots of ice to counteract the heat in Cuba.

Those homemade shakes were the only ones available until all of these new private restaurants started opening around the island. Mango, papaya, mamey, and guaba shakes were the easiest to find since they grow everywhere, but sometimes you could find one made with guanabana or cherimoya, fruits that are harder to come across, but worth the effort when you taste them. And of course there is the wheat shake, nutritious and delicious!

It has become far easier to enjoy a good milkshake due to the many entrepreneurs who have grasped the opportunity to open restaurants, where not long ago only state run restaurants were allowed. They are mostly small scale operations, many selling shakes made from fruits that grow in their yards, and the immediate area. Some are even freezing fruit pulp, and selling the resulting shakes at higher prices when no one else has the fruit. As you can imagine, it is all still very small scale, and because of this the resulting shakes tend to be made with fresh fruit, resulting in a delicious shake with incredible flavor. I dare say it is the flavor of the tropics! It’s as if you were drinking the island.

A new trend is to make milkshakes with ice cream, “sueros de helado,” which literally translates to ice cream IV’s. They tend to have intense flavors, and can cost as much as $4. An outrageous amount in a country where the average salary is under $30 a month. They may be the enemy of calorie counters, but for us shake drinkers they are becoming available in more places. They are available in extraordinary flavors, and recently saw some made with Twix, M&M’s, and others that I did not think possible until visiting this new ice cream shop in Old Havana.

So go for it! Enjoy, and if you’d like you can treat me to one, if it’s for a shake I am always available!

By Luz Grajales

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