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The Cuban Sandwich War

Apr 16, 2012

O.K., anyone who knows anything about the Cuban Sandwich knows it started in Tampa's Ybor City a century ago.

Cuban immigrants mixed with Italians, Germans and others to develop the pressed delicacy -- with Cuban bread, shredded pork, glazed ham, swiss cheese, Genoa salami, a pickle and mustard.

So why do folks in Miami have such trouble with the idea that Tampa is laying its rightful claim on the sandwich? Yes, they may have more Cubans...but we were there first.

And anyone who understands the multicultural history of the sandwich would understand how Genoa salami got involved.

Someone needs to school Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado about this. The Cuban exile was interviewed by the Miami Herald:

Salami? For real?

Indeed.

For as long as anyone in Tampa can remember, the town’s Cuban sandwich makers have slipped a slice of salami or mortadella in between the pork and the cheese, reflecting the influence, researchers say, of the Italian immigrants who joined the Cubans in Tampa’s Ybor City at the turn of the last century.

Which draws a chuckle from Miami Mayor (and Cuban exile) Tomas Regalado who, like many in Miami, had never heard of a Cuban sandwich with salami.

“Oh. Wow,’’ Regalado said. “Tampa certainly has a tradition, but salami is for pizza.’’

Thank goodness, the Latino Times is organizing a Cuban sandwich festival in Tampa on May 26 to settle this once and for all.

Tampa City Council is scheduled to vote this week to name the “Historic Tampa Cuban sandwich’’ as the town’s “signature sandwich.’’

Public radio station WLRN in Miami and WUSF here in Tampa are working on ways to settle this as well -- any ideas?