HAVANA (Reuters) - Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro stepped down on Tuesday 49 years after taking power in an armed revolution, closing the book on a Cold War career that turned him into a leftist icon and a tyrant to his foes.
Castro, 81, who has not appeared in public since undergoing stomach surgery almost 19 months ago, said he would not seek a new term as president or leader of Cuba's armed forces when the National Assembly meets on Sunday.
His retirement raised expectations for change on the communist island, but Cuba experts said limited economic reforms were more likely than swift political change.
"To my dear compatriots, who gave me the immense honor in recent days of electing me a member of parliament ... I communicate to you that I will not aspire to or accept -- I repeat not aspire to or accept -- the positions of president of the Council of State and commander-in-chief," Castro said in a statement published in the Communist Party's Granma newspaper.
Strangly, linked in my mind, since a very young child, with Fidel Castro is this dish...:
Fideos with Mussels
(Can substitute clams)
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
10 oz fideos (or capellini)
1 1/3 cups chopped onion (1 large)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 (14- to 15-oz) cans diced tomatoes in juice
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped chorizo
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1 cup dry white wine
5 cups white fish stock
3 lb mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Heat 1/4 cup oil in a wide 6-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat until hot but not smoking, then add fideos and cook, stirring frequently and turning over, until golden brown (nests will break up), 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer pasta with a slotted spoon to a bowl.
Add 2/3 cup onion and 1 teaspoon garlic to oil remaining in pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes, then stir in tomatoes with juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and sugar. Increase heat to moderately high and simmer, stirring frequently, until tomatoes have broken down into a very thick paste, about 25 minutes.
While sofrito simmers, cook chorizo, bay leaf, and remaining 2/3 cup onion and 1 teaspoon garlic in remaining 2 tablespoons oil in an 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add wine and bring to a boil, then boil 5 minutes. Add stock and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and return to a boil, then add mussels. Cook, tightly covered, over moderate heat, until mussels open wide, 3 to 6 minutes. (Discard any mussels that remain unopened after 6 minutes.) Transfer mussels with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Discard bay leaf.
Add mussel-cooking liquid and browned fideos to sofrito and boil, uncovered, stirring frequently, until pasta is tender and has absorbed most of liquid, 12 to 15 minutes. Add mussels and 1 tablespoon parsley and cook, tossing, until mussels are heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve sprinkled with remaining tablespoon parsley.
You can add about 1 tsp of saffron threads to the dish (if you really like saffron). You can substitute clams for mussels. Don't over-boil the pasta/sofrito mixture or it will get starchy. In fact, best to boil the noodles separately for about five minutes then transfer them without the pasta water and cook them off the rest of the way.
I don't like it, btw. It doesn't suck. In fact, it's actually a solid recipe that shellfish lovers tend to like. I just don't care for mussels and clams that much. But every time Fidel's name comes up, I think of this dish.