The Cuban Sandwich Wars

The Cuban Sandwich War between Tampa and Miami has escalated as Tampa has gone ahead and proclaimed itself to be the sandwich’s inventor. While the issue of where the Cuban Sandwich originated may never be resolved satisfactorily, I can tell you one thing for certain: Cuban Sandwiches do not have salami or mayonnaise!

Via the Miami Herald, where you can also register your vote:

The Cuban Sandwich Crisis: Which City in Florida Has the Legitimate Claim to the Cuban Sandwich?

Call it the Cuban Sandwich Crisis. Two cities, Tampa and Miami, are locked in a battle to claim the Cuban sandwich as its own.

A Cuban sandwich is shredded pork, glazed ham, Swiss cheese, yellow mustard, and dill pickles – served either cold or hot-pressed on Cuban bread. Think of it as the ham-and-cheese for the guayabera set.

Tampa’s version includes salami. Each city uses differently-shaped bread. You might find mayo on the sandwich in Tampa. Those are about the only substantive differences.

Most food historians agree the sandwich was invented in Tampa’s Ybor City. On Thursday, the Tampa City Council officially renamed it the “Historic Tampa Cuban Sandwich.”

Thus, the gauntlet was thrown.

“Oh. Wow,’’ Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado said. “Tampa certainly has a tradition, but salami is for pizza.’’

So our newsrooms — WLRN in Miami and WUSF in Tampa — have taken it upon ourselves to settle this debate, with your help. We are engaged in an air war and cyberbattle to determine, “¿Quien es mas macho?”

The rules for this are simple: 300 words or less online, and 100 seconds of audio in a virtual taste test.

So, who has better claim? Cast your vote now.

Continue reading HERE.



11 thoughts on “The Cuban Sandwich Wars

  1. Ha-ha; funny with all of the crazy issues going on right now that people can still get on to funny sidetracks. My family came from the Western half of the Island; all Cubans, no Tampa folks please.
    We’ve been eating Cuban sandwhiches in Cuba (pre-revolution) and in the states (sadly, post revolution) since any of the old folks can remember (at least since the 30’s). But during the War of Indepenence, there were many ex-pat Cubans that returned from Tampa, and it could be that they were the originators. Regardless, they are Cuban and supreme to any other sandwhich!

  2. Tampa also bastardized arroz con frijoles by using YELLOW rice. That’s right: YELLOW rice. Imagine my surprise years ago when I went to the Columbia restaurant, ordered arroz con frijoles and it came with a strange-colored rice.

    Tampa’s sandwich is good. We love our fair neighbors on the Gulf coast, but they’re not exactly known for their cuisine.

  3. In the words of Tony Montana “You wanna go to war!.. You wanna go to war!..OK, Miami and Tampa–I TAKE you to war!”

    …Cook a chunk of Bambi in pressure cooker with Mojito then “pull” the meat. Replace the (bland corn-fed domestic pork) with flavorful Bambi in Cuban Sandwiches–OH!…also use New Orleans-style French bread…Then “say hello to my little ‘fren of a Cuban-Creole sandwich!”

  4. Robert, I’ve seen (and tasted) that abomination as well. Obviously, their “Cuban” cuisine comes from fourth- and fifth-generation C-As. Here in Miami, however, we suckle on the teat of pure Cuban cuisine, brought directly over by the diaspora, intact from the sad little island where I was born. In my 55 years my grandmother and my mother NEVER made black beans (was that racist?) with yellow rice.

  5. The Imperial Commission for Culinary Purity has deemed this case too trivial for formal hearing. However, it has admonished Tampa to worry less about the authenticity of its sandwiches and more about the authenticity of its Cubans.

  6. Never seen black beans w/yell rice either ~ but have met a number of cubanos arrepentidos in Tampa, so….it may explain the concoction. When you have an identity crisis, you don’t want to identify with the real thing. 🙂

  7. “Oh. Wow,’’ Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado said. “Tampa certainly has a tradition, but salami is for pizza.’’

    That’s funny. As it happens, salami (and pepperoni) is NOT a traditional Italian pizza topping. So salami belongs on an “authentic” Italian pizza just as much as it does (or does not) on an “authentic” Cuban sandwich. (FWIW, some people put mayonnaise on pizza as well … it is popular that way in Japan.)

  8. Every single Cuban sandwich I’ve seen in Southern California is made the authenic Miami way. One can argue not as well, but there is no mayonaise, and no salami.

  9. “The Imperial Commission for Culinary Purity,”!!!

    Anyone familiar with one of the most brilliant and hilarious books ever written, A Confederacy of Dunces–and with its leading character Ignatius Reilly, must suspect that we’re privileged to have him as a Babalu comenter..

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