Letters to the Editor

Cuban sandwich crisis

We’re on the brink of a full-fledged Cuban Sandwich Crisis!

Cary Darling’s reporting (See: “Around the world in 80 meals,” Friday, Sept. 26) on the Cuban sandwich was missing the key ingredient: The true home of the Cuban Sandwich is the Ybor City area of Tampa not Miami as his story might suggest.

More than a century ago, before Miami was Miami, the Tampa area was thriving and Ybor City cigar-factory workers (Spaniards, Italians and Cubans) were making and chowing down on “mixto” sandwiches, the original proto-Cuban sandwich. And it was a lot like today’s Cuban sandwich.

A proper Cuban is: Cuban bread (also a Tampa original) with mustard, sour pickles, Swiss cheese, mojo pork, sweet ham, Genoa salami as the top layer and mashed in a hot press so the salami fat melts over the other ingredients. A Cuban must be pressed. In fact, in Ybor City, before the electric press, they used a tailor’s iron.

I’m sure all those restaurants make a very delicious sandwich. They do. I’ve been to a few of them.

But “Chile aoili?” “Pink sauce?” “Mojito sauce?” Dios mio! With ingredients like those it’s just not a Tampa-style, original Cuban sandwich.

— Ross Bannister, Grapevine