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Because it’s strange and beautiful and hot, people from everywhere converge on Florida and they bring their cuisine and their traditions with them. The Zest celebrates the intersection of food and communities in the Sunshine State.

How 'food led the way' for Cuban influence in Tampa

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Today, we’re sharing two interviews from our friends over at Florida Matters. First we’ll dig into the history of the Cuban sandwich. Then we’ll hear about some of Florida’s lesser known Cuban contributions.

Let’s start with a classic: The Cuban sandwich. A soon-to-be-released book will explore its history and popularity around the world. University of South Florida Professor Barbara Cruz is one of the book’s co-authors. She was born in Cuba. And she says the sandwich has always been part of her life.

Besides the Cuban sandwich, what other foods did Tampa’s early Cuban residents bring with them? For answers, we turn to Andy Huse. He’s a librarian and archivist at the University of South Florida and an expert on Tampa food history.

Huse, Cruz and food writer Jeff Houck are co-authors of the upcoming book The Cuban Sandwich: A History in Layers.

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