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Cuban Sandwich Contains Salami? Miami Doesn't Think So, Zagat

Categories: Food Fight

CubanSandwichMaya83.jpg
via Flickr Maya 83
The true Cuban sandwich: Hold the salami.
I came across a post on Zagat's website yesterday titled "50 State, 50 Sandwiches" and it sparked some indignation. The Florida sandwich, as declared by Zagat, is the "Cuban," which it describes as "filled with Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard and sometimes salami (depending on who you ask)." I got on the horn with several Cubans from the ages of 60- to 80-plus, and my doubts were confirmed -- a true Cuban sandwich should never contain salami.

According to the City of Tampa, it, and not Miami, is the birthplace of the Cuban sandwich. It even went so far as to "officially rename" the sandwich, the "Historic Tampa Cuban Sandwich." Considering the fact that in Tampa the sandwich's ingredients include salami and mayonnaise, Tampa can keep the name. That ain't no Cuban sandwich.

A Cuban sandwich has five basic ingredients nestled between two slices of Cuban bread: ham, roasted pork, swiss cheese, mustard, and pickle. Of course, just like a Whopper, you can have it your way -- no pickles, add mayo, and so forth, but in its purest form, a Cuban sandwich follows the recipe above.

While it's true that Cubans were settling in Tampa hundreds of years before they settled in Miami, it is also true that unlike Miami Cubans who basically transformed the Magic City into the new capitol of Cuba, the Cubans in Tampa assimilated, meshing with the Italians and Spaniards in the area. Guess who suggested adding salami?

There is no place on this earth more Cuban than the city of Miami. I know - you may argue that the island of Cuba, perhaps, may hold the rights to that title, but you'd be wrong. When I say "Cuban," I mean old school Cuban, exile Cuban -- the Cubans who have the freedom to actually buy a Cuban sandwich. The same Cubans who helped shape this city into the internationally recognized metropolis it is today.

Tampa should call its sandwich the "mixto" as it was originally called, because that is what it is -- a mix of cultural appetites resting between two slices of bread -- and stop trying to steal the title of "birthplace of the Cuban sandwich" from Miami, where it belongs.

But Tampa won't give up, even going so far as to say Miamians are scared of competing Cubanos. When only one Miami-area restaurant signed up for a Cuban sandwich-making contest at last year's Cuban Sandwich Festival in Tampa, Victor Padilla, festival co-founder, stated "I guess the rest chickened out." No, Mr. Padilla. There's just no reason to leave Miami to visit Tampa.

The controversy about the Cuban sandwich's birthplace became extremely heated last year, with politicians like Tomas Regalado and National Public Radio (NPR) throwing their two cents in. In a survey conducted on the NPR website, Tampa won 57 percent to 43 percent, but all that proves is that Tampa residents have nothing better to do than troll the internet.

There is evidence that the sandwich started being served in Tampa and Miami in the same year, 1947, so maybe both cities began serving Cubanos at the same time. If that is indeed the case, I put forth that our sandwich is more Cuban than Tampa's version, and therefore deserves the title.

Of course, there are several mentions of the sandwich being served in Key West before either Miami or Tampa were serving their versions. Maybe it contained conch instead of salami.

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66 comments
vpadilla64
vpadilla64

One thing I do know is that when the Cuban Sandwich was made in TAMPA, FL because the only real Cuban bread comes from Tampa, there were only Alligators and a very small community of people living in Miami. A Cuban from Miami is made with air filled bread, pork, whatever ham they think is good and the cheese white or yellow. Miami is like their Cuban Sandwiches Full of hot air and very little meat! There is a lot of talk going on but when it comes down to it, Miami has never really stepped up to the plate and competed probably out of pure fear that their version of a Cuban will not hold up. Now, we love this smack talk , it is fun, but I challenge all the Miami Cuban Sandwich Shops to put their money where their mouth is and compete in our January 2015 Cuban Sandwich Festival in Miami. In January all the Cuban Sandwich Shops and restaurants can come and compete and whoever wins, gets to compete in our competition in March 2015 in Tampa for who makes the best Cuban sandwich in the world all around. So let';s stop the yackin and see who has what it takes TAMPA, or Miami!

Lovely
Lovely

If you feel like eating a Cuban sandwich outside of Miami, you may as well take a shit and put it in a hotdog bun. Don't ask about Cuban coffee outside of Miami...

larry.w.galvez
larry.w.galvez

Seriously? The Tampons are trying to take credit for the Cuban Sandwich? When I create something new I always wait 70 years to claim the title said No one ever.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

well then the research would have to explain how hav-a-tampa became CIGAR CENTRAL without cubans

it would seem to me that the populations of YBOR CITY knew back then what a true sandwich from CUBA would contain and salami is a pork product and pepperoni was also likely used

it makes sense that before widespread refrigeration was available that cured meats would prevail

MIAMI has since been perverted with the infiltration of marielitos the criminals that castro "flushed his toilets" of in sending thousands of  CUBAN scum to america and with them came the perversions in food as well

TAMPA did not suffer the same fate and i would suggest is the purest of CUBAN tradition with FOOD and CIGARs unadulterated by subsequent waves of criminals and savages like MIAMI was

Claudia Heidelberger
Claudia Heidelberger

So many people in the northeast TRY to make Cuban sandwiches and fail miserably although despite the lack of Cuban bread up here, I have found some almost passable ones. The ONLY place that knows how to make one is Miami.

Floydian Slipped
Floydian Slipped

And the Cuban sandwich DOESNT have mayonnaise or Dijon mustard either! (Bleccccch)

Massiel Cuellar
Massiel Cuellar

a cuban sandwich doesnt have salami in it. for those who like it thats cool buts it not a cuban sandwich, period.

Tom Berry
Tom Berry

*damned. Fraggin' autocorrect.

Tom Berry
Tom Berry

A Cuban sandwich with salami may be fanned delicious, but its just a ham and salami sandwich and not a Cuban sandwich. What's next, tomato?? Blasphemers!

Cary Marshall Felton
Cary Marshall Felton

I've lived in both cities growing up. I never saw Cuba sandwiches in Miami. In Tampa Bay everyone sells them and claims they have the best. Pedro, why can't you just celebrate the accomplishments Tampians made. The generations of cigar factor workers made this city great. Respect, it did not all start in Miama.

treimoir
treimoir

A chef who is from Cuba also told me that a true Cuba Sandwich contains onion!!!  I was raised in Miami and I've NEVER had onion on a Cuban Sandwich

misterflorida2000
misterflorida2000

I remember when all of this happened. Tampians voted themselves to be more Cuban than Miamians.  The problem with Tampa is that they are trying to challenge the Cubaness of Miami, and Miami doesn't actually care enough to reply.

It's like the equivalent of Bostonians and New Yorkers challenging the Irishness of people in Belfast, because some of the people in these two American cities have some Irish last names.  

Tampians are so far removed from Cuba, over so many generations, that it actually becomes a mixture of sadness and comedy when they make these statements.  

Pedro M Ross
Pedro M Ross

I remember when all of this happened. Tampians voted themselves to be more Cuban than Miamians. The problem with Tampa is that they are trying to challenge the Cubaness of Miami, and Miami doesn't actually care enough to reply. It's like the equivalent of Bostonians and New Yorkers challenging the Irishness of people in Belfast, because some of the people in these two American cities have some Irish last names. Tampians are so far removed from Cuba, over so many generations, that it actually becomes a mixture of sadness and comedy when they make these statements.

Natasha Rico
Natasha Rico

I don't eat "Cuban Sandwiches" unless I'm in Miami. Not even Tampa. I have seen knock-offs all over the country on food shows.

Johnathan Robert Broad
Johnathan Robert Broad

I'm guessing a few Cubans have been inside cuban sandwhiches sold in Hialeah too!

Jenniffer Laza
Jenniffer Laza

It's a disgrace what they do to Cuban sandwiches in Tampa!

jhouck
jhouck

Tampa was making Cuban sandwiches back when Miami was still Fort Dallas. The original and authentic sandwich has salami because of the Italians in Tampa included it in their version of it. Miami may claim to the be home of many things. The Cuban is not one of them.

misterflorida2000
misterflorida2000

@vpadilla64  They are not going to reply. Traditional Cubans who own these old school cafeterias and bakeries, that make these sandwiches, don't follow internet media stuff.   

vpadilla64
vpadilla64

@Lovely You probably buy your Cubans and coffee from Ocachokebee because the ignorance here astounds me

vpadilla64
vpadilla64

@larry.w.galvez First off Tampons? Really? They must not teach true history in Miami because the real Cuban Sandwich IS NOT from Miami, only what is called a Pork, ham, and cheese sandwich with puffy airfilled bread.

realily
realily

@frankd4 Your comment has to be the most uninformed so far. First of all, no one is saying that there are no Cubans in Tampa -- Ybor City was named after a Cuban for Christ's sake. It has been pretty much established that salami was added  to the sandwich due to the Italian population in Tampa. Lastly, the Cuban sandwich was being served in Miami long before the, as you describe it, the "infiltration of marielitos the criminals that castro "flushed his toilets" of in sending thousands of  CUBAN scum" came here. Do your research before you open your mouth.

vpadilla64
vpadilla64

Heidelberger, obviously German Jew perhaps, guess what it was propbably one of your ancestors that put the salami on their Cuban and then decided to add the swiss and the pickle. Please the wealth of ignorance astounds me

vpadilla64
vpadilla64

That's why Miami never competes in Tampa because they are afraid to because their Cubans will never match up

vpadilla64
vpadilla64

WRONG, the Miami Cuban is wrong, it's incomplete like the schooling in history in Miami INCOMPLETE

vpadilla64
vpadilla64

The sad thing is that MIAMI is the city of Blasphemous cuban sandwiches

vpadilla64
vpadilla64

The only thing that started in miami was rum running boats, alligators and a hand full of non-cubans when the real Cuban Sandwich was created

vpadilla64
vpadilla64

@treimoir WRONG, a real Cuban does not have onion however it might taste good in a non traditional

Lovely
Lovely

@treimoir Did that chef know what meat looked like before he came to Miami.

vpadilla64
vpadilla64

Like the Tampanian said to the Miamian holding a Miami Cuban, " The Joke is in your Hand"

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

the MIAMI influence was corrupted by the marielitos who invaded as savages and criminals and forever since have diluted and polluted the CUBAN people's customs and traditions 

TAMPA had no such invasion of criminals and as such remained pure to CUBAN custom and tradition including establishing YBOR CITY and hav-a-tampa as CIGAR central

a better equivilent i am familiar with would be italians from sicily as savages and unclean criminals compared to the italians of naples or tuscany or milan or venice who by comparision are civilized and learned and worldly - and those groups admit as much

for MIAMI to attack TAMPA really proves the point by measuring the relative CUBANism of each by sidestepping the criminal and savage element (marelitos) of the MIAMI cuban people.........and by extension the true purity of the CUBAN sandwich

vpadilla64
vpadilla64

What's a disgrace is a Miami Cuban Sandwich why? Any Cuban Sandwich outside of Tampa isn't a Cuban Sandwich Period

vpadilla64
vpadilla64

@jhouck Miami is the home of Airfilled bread and pork sandwiches but NOT Cuban Sandwiches

realily
realily

@jhouck Italians add salami = no longer a "Cuban" sandwich 

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

@vpadilla64 @frankd4


.................yeah once "beat" poets get classified with marielitos as THUGS that pretty much sank that line of reasoning extending to the CUBAN sandwich discussion


using BURROUGHS as a thug ? well per WIKI (.....He was born to a wealthy family in St. Louis, Missouri, grandson of the inventor and founder of the Burroughs Corporation, William Seward Burroughs I, and nephew of public relations manager Ivy Lee. Burroughs began writing essays and journals in early adolescence. He left home in 1932 to attend Harvard University, studied English, and anthropology as a postgraduate, and later attended medical school in Vienna. After being turned down by the Office of Strategic Services and U.S. Navy in 1942 to serve in World War II, he dropped out and became afflicted with the drug addiction that affected him for the rest of his life, while working a variety of jobs....)


i guess that would make burroughs the FIRST post-graduate THUG from HARVARD........oooooh how scary !.

vpadilla64
vpadilla64

@realily @frankd4 Last I learned from History was that the very first MIXTO sandwich was made in KEY WEST and then brought to Tampa where it became the Cuban Sandwich PERIOD, Please the only thing in Miami when Tampa was serving real cuban Sandwiches were alligators

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

@realily @frankd4

my OPINION is that TAMPA is more purely CUBAN than MIAMI which has been adulterated by savages and criminals (marielitos) who took over significant portions of MIAMI-DADE since GOV BOB GRAHAM ignored request for assistance from miami beach MAYOR ALEX DAOUD to bring back law and order to the area 

[from MIAMI BABYLON by Gerald Posner: ..........."The flood of illegal immigrants pushed up the county's unemployment from 5.7 percent to 13 percent, taxed social services to the breaking point, and exacerbated racial tensions. .....................even Cubans who had arrived twenty years earlier in the great exodus after Castro's revolution were concerned that the Marielitos could tarnish the reputation they had so carefully cultivated"]

jhouck
jhouck

@realily @jhouck Actually, you're wrong. The original Cuban - which came from Tampa - is a collection of cultures from that city. The roast pork and scored ham from the Latin community, the pickles and mustard from the Germans, the bread and the salami from the Italians. It's why Miami can never claim to have built the original. Even the bread is wrong.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

@realily 

SINCE you're comparing BEATs to MARIELITOs that is where you are getting you knickers in a knot and the source of your frustration

but like the saying goes "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing when in the wrong hands"

and of course the RACE CARD gets played anytime a person cannot otherwise prove their point and their color becomes RED - so all you got is i am racist and why argue the facts

your PREMATURE ejaculatory nonsense comes to a conclusion worthy of a wimpy semi-articulate masterbator who has reached their peak - don't go away mad, just go away

realily
realily

@frankd4 Most of the Beats committed crimes including theft, forgery, assault, battery, vandalism, grand theft auto, and even murder. Several of them also served prison sentences. 

I guess you don't consider them "thugs" since they were white? I notice you didn't mention Miguel Piñero... Your definition of the word "thug" seems to have ethnic and racial undertones. Mine doesn't. I'm done with you. You've already proven yourself to be a biased, ignorant moron; there's nothing left for me to do here.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

@realily 

not only have i heard of WILLIAM BURROUGHS but also the commentary and opinions of HIM by charles bukowski (who was a beat poet by definition but not by personal choice)

THUGs these guys were NOT - sorry - radical and revolutionary YES but not criminal and savage THUGs ..........and certainly not in the class of MARIELITOs who have adulterated and tarnish the MIAMI cuban scene

THUGs like MARIELITOs do NOT create CULTURE, they are simply to uncivilized = period

realily
realily

"Thugs don't create culture..." Really? Ever heard of William Burroughs (or any other Beat artist for that matter), Ken Kesey, Miguel Piñero (and a bazillion other artists since the beginning of time)? Go peddle your hatred somewhere else.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

@realily 

the relevance simply is thugs don't create CULTURE including FOODie traditions

so IF you want REAL italian or cuban or mexican you MUST source the original civilization .....................and not a place like MIAMI which is an adulterated and watery version infiltrated with savages and criminals (marielitos)

the reference to the hand made cigar industry flourishing and prospering in TAMPA lends further proof that the pure cubans are in TAMPA untarnished with the criminal and lawless element that invaded MIAMI

realily
realily

@frankd4 The "new" Cubans, as marielitos,  balseros, etc., are called by "real" Cubans, usually go into real estate, insurance fraud, and other types of crime, they don't invade the restaurant industry and recreate our recipes . And as we are discussing the Cuban sandwich, I fail to see the relevance of your comments. Hav-a-Tampa? Please, more like Have-a-Tampon. Plug it up, Tampa. We're more Cuban. 

realily
realily

@jhouck @realily You basically just repeated yourself and unintentionally proved my point yet again. That is not a CUBAN sandwich. It is a combination of input from cuisines from different ethnicities, thereby making it non-Cuban -- especially the salami, geez. The bread? The bread! Are you serious? The Tampa sandwich should be renamed The Biter or the CIA (Cuban-Italian-American). Give me a break. 

misterflorida2000
misterflorida2000

@jhouck @realily It's kind of hard to challenge your statement since you can't cite your sources. After awhile it becomes the equivalent who can shout louder with these types of discussions.

Jhouck, people from Tampa are so far removed, over so many years, from Cuba, that I just don't see how anybody can make these kinds of claims. 1000s of people in Miami barely have an understanding what American culture is. They were transported to Miami and they basically continued the same lifestyles they sustained, and maintained, back in Cuba. All these references you're making to what people are doing in other parts of country all completely alien to them.   

     

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