If the American Won't Come to Cuba...

Cuban Sandwiches In Ybor Zeng8r

...then Cuba will come to the American. (In the form of a sandwich, anyway.)

I grew up in Tampa, Florida, which has long love affair with the Cuban Sandwich. It began in the historic district, Ybor City, where the cigar industry boomed in the late 19th century with immigrants from Spain, Italy and, of course, Cuba. It became a staple for the cigar makers, and is still a staple in the area (and state) today.

I've been eating them all my life, and in more recent years, making them. And here and there over the years, they've popped up in restaurants here and there, making me one delighted diner.

This summer, however, I saw two Cuban sandwiches available in one day. In a small town in Minnesota. That can only mean one thing: the Cuban sandwich has finally hit the big time. I tried one at a local restaurant, and while not being pressed enough to be a convincing Cuban, it was very good. The other one was advertised on the sign at Subway, of all places.

While the Cuban sandwich is clearly making its way around America, a search for Cuban sandwiches in London reveals that EAT in Covent Garden may have had them on their menu back in March, and Cubana in Waterloo, oddly, doesn't serve them.

So if you're living in London, you'll need to make one at home. It's not hard.

A Tampa Cuban Sandwich

Since you probably won't find Cuban bread if you can't find a Cuban sandwich, buy a loaf of French or Italian bread.

Slice it, and put yellow mustard on the top half. Put sliced dill pickles on top of the mustard, and then one slice of Swiss cheese on top of the pickles.

On the bottom, put two slices of ham, two slices of roast pork, and a few slices of Genoa salami, then put the two halves of the sandwiches together.

Lastly, you'll need to grill your sandwich. Butter the top and bottom of the outside of the bread, and use one of the following items to grill AND press it:

  • a sandwich press
  • a George Foreman grill
  • a waffle maker
  • a aluminum-wrapped brick on top of the sandwich in a frying pan

Flip it if necessary (if using a brick), then cut diagonally and enjoy.

Just make sure you have a Cuban cigar on hand to enjoy afterward.