Here’s a blog close to my heart and even closer to my stomach! 🙂 I was raised on these having lived in Key West, Miami & Orlando, all of which have a strong Cuban presence, traditions & Cuban home cooked restaurants.
A Cuban sandwich (also known as a Cuban Mix & Cuban Pressed) is a variation of a ham and cheese originally created in cafes catering to Cuban workers in Cuba and by Cuban immigrant communities of Florida. At that time, travel between Cuba and Florida was easy, and Cubans frequently sailed back and forth for employment, pleasure, and family visits. Because of this constant and largely undocumented movement of people their culture and ideas thrived & flourished.
While there’s some debate as to the contents of a “true” Cuban sandwich, most are generally agreed upon. The traditional Cuban sandwich starts with Cuban bread. The loaf is sliced into lengths of 8-12 inches (20–30 cm), lightly buttered, or brushed with olive oil on the crust, and cut in half horizontally. A coat of yellow mustard is spread on the bread. Then roast pork, glazed ham, Swiss cheese, and thinly sliced dill pickles are added in layers. Now, don’t confuse the traditional Cuban Sandwich with its red-headed step-cousin the one served on a sweeter bread called ‘pan de Media Noche’ and simply known as a Midnight Sandwich.
You can find this Cuban traditional sandwich at any Cuban restaurant along the entire Keys but I’ll guide you to two of them in particular. The first is Five Brothers with locations on Big Pine Key & Key West and then Sandy’s Cafe on White Street in Key West as pictured below claiming to be the home of the ‘Original Cuban Sandwich’ which is widely disputed… but I’ll leave that to you legal types to fight it out in court! Bon Appetit!