Unlike various staple goods, such as toilet paper and cooking oil, ice cream in Havana is very, very cheap. An ensalada costs the equivalent of 20 U.S. cents. Unsurprisingly, the quality is not always high: The coconut ice cream at Soda Obispo, a popular store in La Habana Vieja (Old Havana), is delicious, full of strands of fresh fruit; but just down the street is a busy hole-in-the-wall joint whose vanilla tastes worryingly like pink bubblegum. But deliciousness is only part of the point. During the Special Period (the era of terrible scarcity in Cuba that began with the decline of the Soviet Union), "ice cream was made with water instead of milk, and it still sold well," said Maria, who has worked behind the counter at Soda Obispo for decades. In the large back room there I found Wilber, a stocky man in a once-white tank top, who has been making the ice cream there for 15 years. Over the din of his machines, he explained that today his milk—"all full fat"—comes from New Zealand, Mexico, and Uruguay.