TAMPA — More than a century after emerging as the quintessential cigar worker's lunch in Ybor City, the humble Cuban sandwich now has official standing as the signature sandwich of the city of Tampa.
But not just any Cuban. The version of the sandwich designated Thursday as the "Historic Tampa Cuban Sandwich" must be made with Cuban bread scored on top with a leaf from a palm frond, plus ham, mojo roast pork, Genoa salami, Swiss cheese, yellow mustard and exactly three dill pickle slices — but not mayonnaise.
It's a recipe that evolved in Ybor City around the turn of the last century, and City Council members passed the designation as one way to celebrate and promote the city's cultural heritage.
"I'm very pleased," said Council member Yvonne Yolie Capin, who sponsored the idea. "It is a lightheartened resolution with a serious message. This is but one example of how we can leverage our cultural assets."
The council stopped, however, from pursuing a trademark for that version of the Cuban after hearing that the trademark would prevent anyone else from using the phrase "Historic Tampa Cuban sandwich."
It's a recipe that has raised some eyebrows, especially in Miami, which has claims of its own on the Cuban.
"I just cannot think about the Cuban sandwich with salami, because I always say salami is either for pizza or for subs," Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado said earlier this week on 970-WFLA.
Regalado even went so far as to say that "the Cuban sandwich came in a raft from Cuba."
"I beg to differ," responded Capin, who also was on the program.
"If they were making Cuban sandwiches at the turn of the last century in Miami," she added, "it would be made by an alligator."