There is no quicker way to get me angry than to argue with me about Cuban sandwiches. I've known to get in some pretty heated arguments about this topic, and as a Tampa Bay native, I feel I'm pretty experienced in this arena.
First of all, anyone who tries to tell you that the Cuban sandwich originated in Miami is flat-out WRONG, and obviously doesn't know the history of Ybor City.
Secondly, the ingredients in a Cuban sandwich is as follows: Ham, pork, swiss cheese, mustard, pickles, and pressed Cuban bread. That's it. If there's lettuce, tomato, avocado...if it's served on a hoagie roll, if it's not served hot and pressed, IT'S NOT A CUBAN. What you have there is a ham sandwich. Y'all better get ready to fight me on this one (see? I told you I get heated about Cubans!).
So when chef and Food Network personality Carl Ruiz recently stated that a place in New Jersey makes the best Cubans, it started a battle on Twitter. And in this here radio studio, because y'all, I was LIVID.
Ruiz was taking NJ.com writer Peter Genovese on a tour of New Jersey’s finest Cuban spots when the reporter tweeted a photo of a slim half-sammie at LaPola in West New York, New Jersey, with the caption “Is this the country’s best Cuban sandwich? @carlruiz thinks so.” The idea that a place in Jersey could be better at making the creation of ham, pork, Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles on Cuban bread better than a place in Florida - home to many Cuban Americans - outraged many who questioned Ruiz’s choice and offered up their own top picks.
When someone tweeted that Ruiz made an honest mistake with his New Jersey sandwich winner, he didn’t back down. Instead, he replied, “Not a mistake, my friend.”
Even St Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman, and the official Twitter accounts for the Columbia Restaurant and City of Tampa got in on the argument.
I have traveled all over this beautiful country of ours, and I can honestly say that NO ONE does Cuban food like Florida does Cuban food. I've tried it in the northeast and it just doesn't hold up (if you can even find it), so the notion that this place in Jersey can even hold a candle to Tampa Bay Cuban food is just laughable (and anger-inducing).