September 9, 2009

IMPORTING THE SUPERIOR LUNCH::

How Havana Perfected the Sandwich (Ana Sofia Pelaez, 9/09/09, Daily Beast)

While its ingredients may (or may not) be up for debate, one thing’s certain: The Cuban is one of the tastiest creations since sliced flautas.

If failure is an orphan, the Cuban sandwich, or Cubano, has been an enormous success. Many want to claim it, each with definite ideas of the right and wrong ways to make it. A combination of sweet ham, marinated pork loin, Swiss cheese, thinly sliced pickles and spicy mustard in a long, pale loaf with a paper-thin crust, it’s fused together in a flat sandwich press called a plancha. Despite conflicting narratives, a general story emerges. The Cuban, a descendent of the Spanish mixto sandwich of mixed meats, was a typical lunch for sugar-mill and cigar-factory workers in 19th-century Cuba and Key West, Florida. When Vincente Martinez Ybor decided to move his popular Principe de Galas cigar operation from Key West to Tampa, Cuban and Spanish cigar workers followed, bringing the sandwich with them. Working alongside recent Italian immigrants, salami was added to the mixto and is still part of the traditional Tampa Cuban. By the 1930s, they’d become popular items in restaurants and cafes throughout Cuba and Southern Florida. [...]

While the sandwich has found its way to restaurants and delis across the country, even receiving the all-American validation of having its own stand at the new Yankee Stadium, there’s nothing like a real Cuban. With so many variations, it may be the best sandwich you’re not eating. Here are a few essential elements that go into the making of it:...

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 9, 2009 8:12 AM
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