The New York Times Sparked A War Over The Home Of The Cuban Sandwich And Here’s How People From Miami And Tampa Are Acting
The Cuban sandwich is one of the most iconic foods in Latino culture and its history, while documented, is hotly contested. Both Miami and Tampa proudly claim to be the home of the Cuban sandwich everyone knows and loves today. The New York Times, maybe accidentally, reignited the debate over the Cuban sandwich’s home with their crossword puzzle and now there’s a war raging in Florida.
The New York Times asked crossword puzzle players to name the home of the Cuban sandwich.
While people consider Miami the home because of the well-known Cuban community, the answer was Tampa. Of course, Miamians got upset and took to Twitter to let the world know that they believe the Cuban sandwich is from Miami.
The City of Miami’s Twitter page decided to fire the first shot in the social media debate.
That’s a really big claim considering that the Cuban sandwich did not in fact start in Miami. Sorry about it, bro.
Obviously, the City of Tampa had to get involved to let Miami know that they are watching.
It is kind of satisfying to watch two Florida cities warring over who started the Cuban sandwich. While both claim to be the home of the Cuban sandwich, it is important to understand how the Cuban population moved within the state.
The City of Tampa even came through with an informative video showing how the Cuban sandwich shows the diversity of the Ybor neighborhood.
The video breaks down all of the ingredients in the Cuban sandwich and how they represent all of the communities that called Ybor City home. The melting pot of cultures led to an influx in various immigrants calling Ybor City home. Ybor City is a cigar manufacturing neighborhood built by Cuban, Spanish, and Italian immigrants.
Other Twitter users injected themselves into the debate.
Let’s go ahead and lay out one thing. Miami is not the home to the Cuban sandwich. The sooner we all accept that fact, the better our society will be. The Cuban sandwich first documented appearance was in Tampa in the 1880s in workers’ cafés. There was a migration of Cuban people to Tampa to work in the cigar industry.
A few people took a stand for Tampa as the home of the Cuban sandwich and they aren’t wrong.
Clearly, the first Cuban sandwich started in Cuba with the indigenous Taíno people. From there, it made its way to Florida because travel between Cuba and Florida was easy in the 1800s as the tobacco and cigar industry grew. Tampa became a major location for the cigar industry in the 1880s and it wasn’t long until the city was home to a large Cuban population.
People were really eager to make everyone know that Tampa is where the Cuban sandwich came from.
As part of defending their city’s honor, some Twitter users have taken to dragging Miami. Miami might be the epicenter of all thing Cuban and Cuban-American now but that was not the case when the Cuban sandwich came to life. Believe it or not, there was a time in history when the larger Cuban community of Florida was in Tampa.
Yet, despite the facts, some people still claim that Tampa is not where the Cuban sandwich originated.
Miami is literally filled with Cuban sandwiches. You can’t go anywhere in that city without a chance to get your hands on a delicious and savory piece of Cuban history. However, quantity does not mean that Miami is the home and originator of the Cuban sandwich. That is a fact. We will even go so far to say that not even Tampa is the true home of the Cuban sandwich.
However, we’d like to bring one more city to the fight: Key West.
That’s right. Before Tampa became the destination for Cuban immigrants and workers, Key West was home to the cigar industry. Thousands of Cubans worked in Key West because it is the closest U.S. city to Cuba. As such, a lot of Cuban culture has made its way to the U.S. by way of Key West.
Basically, Tampa and Miami have had an ongoing feud over who created the Cuban sandwich when the real creator of the delicious meal has been Key West all along.
Key West might not have documented the existence of the Cuban sandwich but there is no doubt that the city brought the sandwich to the U.S. Much like the sloppy joe, Key West was a place where Cuban people and foods have entered the U.S. for centuries and has received little to no credit for its importance for the Cuban community.
The Cuban tobacco industry first made the jump from Cuba to the U.S. in Key West. The small city at the tip of the islands between the Florida mainland and Cuban is a humble one filled with historic and important moments in Cuban culinary history.
So, while The New York Times might have Miami and Tampa feuding, Key West is being the bigger city and quietly knowing they are the true home to the Cuban sandwich.
The sandwich, which was a fast and affordable lunch for tobacco workers, is one that has become a defining example of Cuban culture. No matter where you find a Cuban, there are six main ingredients to ensure the best recipe. It’s all about the bread, ham, roast pork, mustard, Swiss cheese, and pickles. You don’t have to know the history of the Cuban sandwich to enjoy it, but it helps.