In the Tampa Bay area, there are dozens of restaurants that bill themselves “home to the best Cubans” — a hard, soul-satisfying sandwich that nests ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard together between two layers of butter. Cuban bread. But, as Andrew Hughes, Barbara C. Cruz, and Jeff Hawke reveal in their upcoming book, “The Cuban Sandwich: A History in Layers” (University of Florida Press, 2022), deciding which Cubano is the best—or even where Cuban originated—is not a simple matter. .
As the title suggests, the book begins with early accounts of Cuban’s ancestors, and mixto And the Average The sandwiches that offered newly independent Cuba equally well as a convenient lunch for hungry cigar ballers or a snack for late-night revelers. With the generous help of historical sources, the book evokes the spectacle of the specially trained Luncheros who quickly sliced, spread and compressed their multi-layered creations into crowded cafes. From there, it follows morsels of meat in Tampa, New York, and Miami, where communities of Cuban immigrants and exiles brought the sandwich to new heights in their new homes—and where it finally came to be known as “Cuban.”
Gourmands will savor the book’s delicious and evocative discussion of the sandwich’s many ingredients, including crunchy and sweet Cuban bread. polo pork and mojo Pork, each with its own fascinating history. The book also addresses some of the more controversial intricacies of Cubano’s evolution, including the proper amount and placement of pickles, how to properly apply mustard, and whether or not to include salami (expected in Tampa, simply unacceptable in Miami). It even takes into account issues of corporate Cuban (now available at Arby’s and Pollo Tropical) and multicultural crossovers (including the Jewban sandwich, which is usually adapted to pastrami and coleslaw).
But even if you’re not a foodie, or even if you’re a vegetarian (as I am), you’ll still enjoy the absorbing social history that the book provides. You will learn how this specialty sandwich has played a role in the development of iconic restaurants such as Columbia in Tampa and Miami Versailles and came to express an important sense Cubandad to the remote Cuban diaspora. With more than a dozen interviews woven into history, you’ll meet some of the dedicated chefs, restaurateurs, and food producers who are preserving and innovating Cuban food traditions across the United States and beyond.
No matter how you slice it—though, traditionally, you should slice it diagonally—the “Cuban sandwich” is a good food for thought.
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