Medvedev, Castro, eat pork fat roasted over open fire

15:03, 30 January 2009
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Castro holds informal talks with Medvedev

Cuban leader Raul Castro talked informally with the Russian president at a government resort north of Moscow on Thursday at the start of a visit intended to invigorate ties between the Cold War allies, according to AP via USA Today.

Castro and President Dmitry Medvedev met at a lavish hunting lodge at snow-covered Zavidovo, about 90 miles north of Moscow, before more formal talks Friday in the Kremlin.

Castro`s eight-day visit is part of a push by Moscow to strengthen its influence in Latin America. Medvedev visited Cuba and other Latin American nations in November, and Russia also sent a navy squadron to the Caribbean.

At Zavidovo on Thursday, Medvedev helped wrap a coat around Castro`s shoulders when he emerged from a car. The pair exchanged pleasantries in front of a fireplace before heading out for a stroll in the wintry woods and sharing a hearty hunter`s dinner.

Medvedev said they would talk about serious matters, but there was also time for some of the reminiscing that officials from former Soviet allies often engage in when visiting today`s Russia.

Medvedev said Castro — 77-year-old brother of the former Cuban leader Fidel Castro — had been to the same spot nearly 25 years ago, and Castro recalled eating salo — pork fat — roasted over an open fire in the forest.

"We will of course eat salo with black bread and we will talk about everything of interest to us," said Medvedev. "I also have a film about Commandante Fidel Castro`s stay, and there are interesting photos here."

"Of course I was younger then," said Castro.

Along with the roasted fat of wild boars, the menu featured grilled venison and vodka.

Before the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, it provided billions of dollars in trade and subsidies to Cuba, close to the southeast coast of its Cold War foe the United States. Russia has sought recently to reinvigorate ties with Cuba and other Caribbean nations to challenge U.S. influence in the region.

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