“An excellent, approachable resource on Cuban history told through the complexities of a beloved food item. Highly recommended for foodies and history buffs.”—Library Journal, Starred Review
“In this new perspective on a passionate, long-standing contest, University of South Florida academics Huse and Cruz and food writer Houck suss out the origins of the Cuban sandwich and steer readers through the intense, fraught debate between Miami’s and Tampa’s fiercely defended versions.”—Booklist
“A delicious look at Cuban and Cuban American history told through its most iconic meal.”—Foreword Reviews
“Makes it clear the story of the Cuban sandwich is as mixed up and nuanced as the flavors of the sandwich. . . . The book is told in clean, bright prose, a pleasure to read.”—Miami Herald
“Gives a detailed description of the Cuban sandwich and at the same time engages the intellectual and historical context of the creation and popularization of this sandwich.”—Latino Book Review
“A fascinating blend of Cuban history, American culinary history, and stories of some of our country’s best chefs carrying on the tradition of this great preparation. Who’d have thought a sandwich was a linchpin in our culture? Well done!”—Michael Ruhlman, author of Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America
“A compelling, readable history that explores themes of exile, diaspora, industry, modernity, and culinary exchange.”—Sara Camp Milam, managing editor, Southern Foodways Alliance
“Traces the complex and often contested history of the Cuban sandwich. Readers will be left craving the Cuban sandwich in its different variants.”—Luis Martínez-Fernández, author of Revolutionary Cuba: A History
How did the Cuban sandwich become a symbol for a displaced people, win the hearts and bellies of America, and claim a spot on menus around the world? The odyssey of the Cubano begins with its hazy origins in the midnight cafés of Havana, from where it evolved into a dainty high-class hors d’oeuvre and eventually became a hearty street snack devoured by cigar factory workers. In The Cuban Sandwich: A History in Layers, three devoted fans—Andrew Huse, Bárbara Cruz, and Jeff Houck—sort through improbable vintage recipes, sift gossip from Florida old-timers, and wade into the fearsome Tampa vs. Miami sandwich debate (is adding salami necessary or heresy?) to reveal the social history behind how this delicacy became a lunch-counter staple in the U.S. and beyond.
The authors also interview artisans who’ve perfected the high arts of creating and combining expertly baked Cuban bread, sweet ham, savory roast pork, perfectly melted Swiss cheese, and tangy, crunchy pickles. Tips and expert insight for making Cuban sandwiches at home will have readers savoring the history behind each perfect bite.
Andrew T. Huse is curator of Florida Studies at University of South Florida Libraries and the author of From Saloons to Steak Houses: A History of Tampa. Bárbara C. Cruz is professor of social science education and co-director of the InsideART project at the University of South Florida. Jeff Houck is vice president of marketing for the Columbia Restaurant Group and previously worked as food editor, writer, and blogger for the Tampa Tribune.
Publication of this work is made possible by a Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.