Lillydahl, Sandy (photographer)
Evening view of central Ruben Martinez Villenas sugar mill, 1970
"Our centrale, the Ruben Martinez Villenas sugar mill that processed our cane. When we returned from a trip in the evening, we could always tell we were near home by the warm molasses aroma of the cane fields and the centrale. The cane we cut was brought to the centrale where it was washed and crushed to e4xtract the juice. Juice was boiled down in large metal vats until it was dark, thick, and beginning to crystallize. A spinning centrifuge separated sugar crystals from molasses. Sugar was shipped to export warehouses, and molasses was fed to cattle in pens attached to the mill. The cattle were F2 hybrids, the offspring of imported Holstein milk cows and the tough native Zebus. They had odd looking knobby little heads with long floppy ears and large bodies. The Cubans wanted cattle that could withstand a hot climate and produce both meat and milk. Cuban ice cream was exceptional, rich and creamy with high butterfat content -- our favorite dessert."
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