LISTEN LIVE

'New York Times' Crossword Clue Creates Chaos For Cuban Sandwich Fans

May 15, 2019

A New York Times crossword clue over the weekend reignited an age-old debate over which Florida city has the best Cuban sandwiches: Tampa or Miami?

NPR's All Things Considered took up the battle Tuesday. 

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: All right, Audie, help me out here. Name a city, five letters long, famous for its Cuban sandwiches.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: Miami.

SHAPIRO: Actually incorrect according to The New York Times.

CORNISH: Wait. What?

SHAPIRO: The answer in Sunday's New York Times crossword puzzle was Tampa.

CORNISH: OK. That's an unlikely place to revive an age-old debate. The two cities have a longstanding beef about whose Cuban sandwiches are better.

SHAPIRO: Beef.

CORNISH: Miami's version includes the following...

RICARDO MORALES: Cuban bread, ham, pork, Swiss cheese, a couple pickles, mustard and that's it.

SHAPIRO: That's Ricardo Morales of Old's Havana Cuban Bar and Cocina in Miami. Tampa's version has one more ingredient.

ANDREA GONZMART: Genoa salami that's got peppercorns in it.

CORNISH: Andrea Gonzmart owns the Columbia Restaurant in the Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa.

GONZMART: Tampa and Ybor City in particular has been making Cuban sandwiches long before Miami even existed.

SHAPIRO: Well, Cuban sandwiches became popular in Tampa in the mid-1800s after the tobacco industry moved there from Key West. The factory's immigrant workers demanded a quick, affordable lunch.

GONZMART: The ham represented the Spaniards. The pork represented the Cubans. The salami represented the Italians. Mustard and the pickles were representative of the Germans. So it's a representation of Ybor City.

CORNISH: History does not sway team Miami.

MORALES: It's not a traditional Cuban sandwich.

SHAPIRO: And Morales has a message for people like Gonzmart.

MORALES: You can come and try our sandwich. All the people come in and say that our sandwich is the best.

GONZMART: I would never in a million years buy a Cuban sandwich in Miami (laughter). I feel very strongly about this (laughter).

CORNISH: As for that crossword puzzle, the clue about Tampa was ironically a last-minute edition.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: The puzzle had already been edited, typeset, sent to the test solvers, and I found we had repeated a word in the grid. It had both tin and tin foils, which is a no-no. So we rejiggered the upper left corner of the grid and Tampa appeared.

SHAPIRO: That familiar voice, of course, is Will Shortz of The New York Times, also puzzle master for NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday.

SHORTZ: I'm staying neutral.

CORNISH: And city pride aside, the Cuban is, after all, just a sandwich.

GONZMART: I think it's mostly all in fun. At the end of the day, if you can't have a good laugh about it, then you don't have a personality (laughter).

Copyright © 2019 NPR. All rights reserved.