Miami Engages Tampa in Cuban Sandwich War

Do salami and mayonnaise belong on a Cuban sandwich?

By Hank Tester
|  Monday, Apr 16, 2012  |  Updated 8:45 PM EDT
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Disturbing culinary news is coming from cross-state: Tampa is trying to claim the Cuban sandwich as its own. But Miami isn't giving up the fight, as sandwich aficionados here argue that Tampa's Cuban sandwich includes a few ingredients that just don't make the cut.

Disturbing culinary news is coming from cross-state: Tampa is trying to claim the Cuban sandwich as its own. But Miami isn't giving up the fight, as sandwich aficionados here argue that Tampa's Cuban sandwich includes a few ingredients that just don't make the cut. "To the best of my knowledge there has never been salami on a Cuban sandwich, as there is no mayonnaise on a Cuban sandwich," says Raquel Roque, who has authored numerous Cuban cookbooks.

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Disturbing culinary news is coming from cross-state: Tampa is trying to claim the Cuban sandwich as its own.

But Miami isn’t giving up the fight, as sandwich aficionados here argue that Tampa’s Cuban sandwich includes a few ingredients that just don’t make the cut.

“To the best of my knowledge there has never been salami on a Cuban sandwich, as there is no mayonnaise on a Cuban sandwich,“ says Raquel Roque, who has authored numerous Cuban cookbooks.

The Tampa City Council is set to vote Thursday on a resolution to adopt the “Historic Tampa Cuban sandwich” as the city’s “signature sandwich,” The Miami Herald reports. Tampa does have time on its side, as Cuban cigar makers arrived there in the 19th century before Miami existed, the newspaper notes.

But Roque, an expert on Latin American cuisine, is baffled why Tampa would adopt an official Cuban that contains salami and mayo.

Her recipe: 1/3 of a loaf of Cuban bread, 3 slices each of sweet Virginia ham, roast pork, and Swiss cheese, 4 slices of sweet pickles, and yellow mustard to taste. Then grill and slice diagonally across the middle, Roque says.

Irv Fields, the sandwich expert who operates The Café at Books & Books in Coral Gables, confirms that salami does not belong in a proper Miami Cuban sandwich.

“You want a good salami sandwich, you go to a nice kosher deli, on rye bread, that’s a salami sandwich,” he says.

“No salami,” his chef says after laying out one.

Felipe Valles, the owner of the Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana, knows his Cuban sandwiches. He serves half a million a year.

Mayo and salami would never be served on a Cuban sandwich at his establishment, he says.

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