From San Salvador, Columbus sailed south, on October 27, 1492 He discovered Cuba but isn’t until the next morning that he decided to disembark, choosing the banks of a “raging river”, naming it “River of the Seas.” In that place Columbus set foot on Cuban soil. After the ceremony where he took possession of the land on behalf of King Ferdinand, and named this island Juana, he sailed by boat up the river. Later he wrote, “This is the most beautiful land human eyes have ever seen.”
Today’s recipes are very simple but tasty. Let’s begin with a Cuba Libre, a drink born during the Spanish-American War at the turn of the century, adopting the battle cry of the Cuba Liberation Army during the war of independence that ended in 1898. After that, how about a bite of a Cuban sandwich?, a popular meal in south Florida where many Cubans have settled since the early 20th century.
It is believed that the sandwich was a common lunch food for workers in both the cigar factories and sugar mills of Cuba (especially in big cities such as Havana or Santiago de Cuba) and the cigar factories of Key West by the 1860s. Historian Loy Glenn Westfall states that the sandwich was “born in Cuba and educated in Key West”.
Ingredients2 oz. light rum Juice of 1/2 limes Coca-Cola®
Pour lime juice into a highball glass over ice cubes. Add rum; fill with cola, stir, and serve.
Ingredients3 thin slices of ham 3 thin slices roast pork hot or cold 3 thin slices of Swiss cheese (I used gruyere cheese) 3 or 4 slices of pickles Cuban bread hard crust Mustard (I used both, sweet and Dijon mustards)
The original recipe calls for fresh, crusty Cuban bread, but I couldn’t find it so instead I used one mini baguette and one mini ciabatta.
Slice the bread open face so that both halves are still barely connected and spread mustard on both halves. Add the ham, and then the roasted pork. Add your Swiss cheese and then a few slices of pickle. Make sure to spray your sandwich press with a little butter flavored Pam, or for a tastier sandwich you can brush some softened butter on the outside of the bread.
Place the sandwich in a Cuban sandwich press and press down until the cheese is melted and the bread is slightly hard to the touch. For those of you without a press (Me), you can also place the sandwich in a hot skillet and press down on it with a heavy kitchen object, a baking pan will do.
Adapted from Tasteofcuba.com