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The Cuban sandwich is a variation of a ham and cheese sandwich, made with ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and sometimes salami, all on Cuban bread.
The sandwich isn’t from Cuba, or so the story goes… it’s from Tampa, but it’s also from Miami, but called the Cuban sandwich, confused? Don’t worry, so were we.
The claim from the people of Tampa is that in the early 1900s, Tampa was the home of Cuban immigrants, as well as many from Italy, Spain and Germany who flooded to the area to join Ybor’s cigar industry. The Cuban sandwich was a simple snack for hungry cigar workers, but with so many influences from around the world, it underwent a lot of changes. The Cubans brought the marinated roast pork, the Spanish brought the ham, the Germans and Jewish immigrants brought the Swiss cheese, pickle and mustard, and the Sicilians brought the salami.
Miami’s argument is that by the 1960s, the city had gained a large influx of Cuban residents after the communist revolution on the island, causing a wave of Cuban expats to settle in Miami. The Cubans also brought their culture and cuisine with them, including the Cuban sandwich.
To set things straight, in 2012, the Tampa City Council approved a resolution to end the controversy by establishing the “Historic Cuban Sandwich” as the city’s signature sandwich. However, the debate between Tampa and Miami still rages on. Despite the controversy, the most symbolic thing is that it represents people of different cultures in Florida coming together to produce something very very delicious.
Visit Tampa Bay’s video explores the history of the Cuban sandwich and what it means today.