What is a Cuban sandwich?

Salami is used to make an Americanized version of the Cuban sandwich.

Many of the world’s most popular sandwiches gained popularity for the first time among the working classes, such as the generous Cuban sandwich. Cuban workers during the early 20th century often bought hot meat and cheese sandwiches from vendors stationed at their workplaces. When many of these workers migrated to the United States, especially the South Florida region, they brought many of their recipes and food traditions with them, including the original ingredients of their beloved “Cuban sandwich,” otherwise known as Cuban.

Thin slices of ham and Swiss cheese are common ingredients in Cuban sandwiches.

A traditional Cuban sandwich starts with a special Cuban bread similar to long French buns. Originally, local bakeries spent the early morning hours baking light, crispy Cuban breads, which were then delivered to customers by hanging from an outside nail. Cuban bread has a very short shelf life, so most recipients make a Cuban sandwich within hours of receiving or purchasing the bread.

Some variations of a Cuban sandwich call for fresh tomatoes and mayonnaise.

Cuban bread is sliced ​​in half like a submarine or hoagie bread and then buttered. Thin slices of roast pork marinated in mojo sauce are then added to the sandwich, followed by thin slices of ham. In the Tampa, Florida area, where the Americanized version of the Cuban sandwich is believed to have originated, ham can be substituted for thin slices of salami. Then comes a layer of Swiss cheese, followed by thin slices of dill pickle.

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A Cuban sandwich may feature mustard.

Traditionally, mustard is the only condiment added to a Cuban sandwich, although it is not uncommon to find mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato added later. A Cuban sandwich can be served cold, but it is usually placed in a heated sandwich maker until the cheese has melted and the bread is grilled. Since authentic Cuban bread can be hard to come by, some eateries use Italian panini bread as a viable alternative.

The ingredient that most defines an authentic Cuban sandwich is marinated roast pork. The mojo marinade gives the meat a distinct citrus tone, along with a savory garlic flavor. Much like Chicago’s deep pizzas or Philadelphia’s Philly cheese steaks, many Cuban sandwich enthusiasts say the most authentic version of the sandwich is found in the Tampa, Florida area. While many of the ingredients can be found elsewhere or prepared at home, only a few bakeries in the South Florida area can produce authentic Cuban bread acceptable enough for the traditional Cuban sandwich.

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