Cigars, Rough Riders And Sandwich Link Tampa To Cuba

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Photo by Bobbie O’Brien/WUSF Public Media

Tampa is linked to Cuba by more than early Spanish fishermen, migrating cigar workers and the 1960s missile crisis. Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders used the city to train and then launch their 1898 foray into Cuba during the Spanish American War.

But a sandwich became the most recent Cuban battleground between the communities in Tampa and Miami: The Cuban Sandwich Crisis.

As a result, Tampa City Council named the traditional Cuban Sandwich of sweet ham, mojo-marinated roast pork, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, mustard and Genoa salami as the city’s “signature sandwich” in April 2012.

Tampa’s Cuban Sandwich Festival on Saturday, March 30, features a taste from a 170 foot-long Cuban sandwich, music and a junior chef’s showdown. Sunday, March 31, is the 8th annual International Cuban Sandwich Festival where teams from South Korea, England and California will compete for the title of Best Cuban Sandwich.

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Keystone View Company. Roosevelt’s “Rough Rider’s”sic arrival at Tampa, Fla., U.S.A. Florida Tampa, ca. 1898. Meadville, Pa.: Keystone View Company manufacturers and publishers.

And if you’d like some additional visuals, while munching on your Cuban sandwich, here’s a short film of Rough Riders at drill in Tampa on the Library of Congress website.

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