The sandwich. Is there a more perfect food? The origin story of the world’s greatest lunch comes from England. In the 18th century there was this guy called the Earl of Sandwich. He was a compulsive gambler and didn’t like to leave the card table. So, he told his servants to bring him meat and vegetables between two pieces of bread. The Earl should be listed with Edison and Tesla as the world’s greatest inventors. On the island of Cuba and its suburb of Miami, there have been several permutations of the humble sandwich. As Tu Vez’s resident Cubano, I figured I’d make a list of the best of the best.
The king of all Cuban sandwiches is…well, the Cuban sandwich. Cubans love pork, and this sandwich provides you with pro squared. First, you have a thick slice of lechon (roast pig). Add ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard and stick it between two slices of Cuban bread. Then you put it in a sandwich press and grill the bread a little. Sublime.
Before there was the Philly cheese, there was the pan con bistec. A grilled piece of palomilla steak marinated in in lime juice, garlic, and onion. Add grilled onions and a fist full of julienne fries. Perhaps a slice of tomato and mayo. Again, put it in between two slices of Cuban bread and sandwich press that bitch. A personal fav.
Elena Ruz was a Havana socialite in the 30′s. After a night at the opera or other society event, she would stop by a sandwich counter and candy shop called El Carmelo. It seems Elena had a sweet tooth, so she would order a sandwich with cream cheese on one side of the bread and turkey and strawberry jam on the other. This bizarre concoction was named after its mad sandwich scientist creator.
La frita is the Cuban version of the burger. You take ground beef seasoned with paprika, garlic, salt, pepper, chili powder and mix it with ground up Spanish chorizo. Grill it on a griddle like you would a regular burger. Top it with julienne fries and put it between two slices of soft egg bread. It’s like a potato chip, you can’t eat just one.
La medianoche was born back in the good old days of the Cuban big bands of the 40′s and 50′s. The musicians would finish their sets and want something to eat. The clubs would usually be out of the Cuban baguette type of bread, but they did have egg bread. Put a piece of roast pork and Swiss cheese in the middle and you have yourself the perfect midnight snack.