In response to an email, I thought I'd share with everyone. where do y'all go for Cubans? The Tampa area has the best I know of. For those of you in Miami, by all means, share.
The Cuban sandwich originated in
Tampa. Some misguided souls talk about Miami as the birthplace of the sandwich, but when Tampa was perfecting it, Miami was a back-water plume-trading post, not the bustling Latin metropolis it is today.
Sure, Cubans ate sandwiches before, but not like this one. Nurtured by a variety of immigrants in Tampa, the Cuban sandwich coalesced into what we still savor today.
The bread: during their long, bitter struggle for independence from Spain (ending in what we inappropriately call the "Spanish-American War"), Cubans made their bread in long, thin loaves. The shape made it easier to cut off small slices during their years of hunger. Cubans in Tampa, who helped fund the war with their wages as cigar makers, continued to make the bread in this fashion, giving us a perfect platform for the present-day Cuban sandwich. Cuban bread is light,crusty, and a little dry. For some reason, it never tastes right anywhere else.
The ingredients: ham, baked, not boiled, glazed with sugar. Chunks of roast pork marinated in Mojo-- sour orange juice, vinegar and garlic. Salami, the Italian immigrant's contribution, and pickle, swiss cheese and mustard round out the sandwich. Some say butter and turkey as well, but those have fallen by the wayside in the last 50 years.
what does NOT go on a Cuban: lettuce or tomato! Then you're eating a sub and the balance of flavors is ruined. Onion is a no-no as well, but harder for me to resist. The aforementioned veggies add too much moisture to the sandwich. Whenever you order, be sure that you ask them to withhold these offending ingredients. I go without mayo as well (a more recent addition), but that is a matter of personal taste more than tradition.
where to go: Dona Rossina's 4816 Busch blvd. E. (813) 989 1711 try the flan as well. she's a nice lady, a recent immigrant from Cuba.
Hugo's is good, too, but the pork is a bit disappointing. 931 S. Howard ave. (813) 251-2842
Cruise down Boliche blvd (Columbus ave), there you'll find a whole bunch of Cuban places (they often call themselves Spanish restaurants but the food is really Cuban (a quirk of the Latin ethnic hierarchy). You'll find La Teresita there, etc.
There are many places to get a Cuban in town. There's a new Mexican place on Hillsborough called Los Tucanes that makes a pretty good Cuban, too.