The old saying about all politics being local can also be applied to the Cuban sandwich. I first fell in love with this edible masterpiece at the former Broadway Sandwich Shop on Roosevelt Ave in Corona. Muy abuelo would take me there for lunch and I’d get the Cubano with a papaya shake. Once I got wheels, I collected some wonderful memories inside that culinary cathedral under the train tracks.
Needless to say, I take my Cuban sangwich seriously.
It seems every chain restaurant has tried the Cuban sandwich on for size, with mostly forgettable results. Hooters perpetuated a ghastly sacrilege of the Cubano many moons ago. I was on a business trip so I tried it . . . because Hooters. It was the first and only time I let a chain restaurant dupe me on this. Maybe it’s a Cuban thing, because not everyone is so discriminating when it comes to the commercialized come hither of a Cuban copycat.
“Went to Subway yesterday.”
Jane is a favorite work pal of mine, because she has no filter. But something in the way she began this particular conversation had me worried. As in, I had the sneaking suspicion she was about to fuck with my shit. Specifically, the Cuban sandwich.
“Sorry to hear that.” I said.
“It wasn’t bad.”
“It’s Subway, Jane.”
“Me and hubby had the Cuban sandwich . .”
“No you did not, no you did not!” I barked.
Jane began laughing her ass off because she had been there when I had issued an embargo on the Subway Cuban sandwich days earlier during an impromptu huddle. My rants are oftentimes turned into memes throughout the day, and so it was in this instance when I had remarked that “Fidel Castro is crapping in his dead pants” over Subway’s criminal handling of the Cuban.
“It was pretty good.” Jane said.
“Oh my God Janie, good compared to what? A bologna sandwich?”
And that’s when the pile on started happening to me, as another co-worker decided to crash this chat whilst carrying some bad intentions of his own.
“Oh, the Subway Cuban sandwich?” Mike interrupted. It was clear from the smirk on his face that he knew what was going on and was simply looking to apply the finishing touches with an atomic bombed exclamation point. Dude’s got game, I’ll give him that much.
“Don’t even.” I warned.
“You know what? The hell with you guys.” I huffed.
“Well if you would make us your famous Cuban sandwich, then maybe we wouldn’t have to rely on Subway.” Mike said, adding insult to these most injurious words.
“Anyway.” Jane chortled.
“For one thing, that’s no excuse for going to Subway. And for another, I’m not your monkey.”
“I can’t cook,” Mike said.
“Well, neither can Subway and that hasn’t stopped them.” I replied.
“You should make Cuban sandwiches.” Jane suggested.
“What? For everyone?” I said.
“Yeah, why not?”
“Great idea Jane.” Mike added.
“No its not, it’s a horrible idea. You have no idea what kind of undertaking it is, to make a legit Cuban sandwich. You don’t just go to the grocery store for sandwich meats and white bread, people!”
“Subway makes it work.” Mike replied.
“Well, I have never had a legit Cuban sandwich so I’m sure it’s much better than Subway.” Jane said.
“And I can give you the recipe.” I said.
“Why not just make them some time?” It was clear Mike wasn’t going to let this go.
“It’s funny, but for someone who can’t cook . . you’re really good at enlisting other people to cook. And for, like . . two hundred people?” I laughed.
“Not everyone is gonna eat it, so you’d be safe if you made it for a hundred and fifty.” Mike said.
“Yeah, make that a hundred and forty nine, because your ass ain’t getting one.” I said.
“That’s cold.” He replied in mock sheepishness.
“You disrespect the Cuban sangwich, that’s what happens.”
“You can just cut them smaller.” Jane said.
“Like sliders. Yeah!” Mike laughed.
“Like nah! Sliders are for quitters. A Cuban sandwich isn’t a 10k run, it’s a marathon.” I argued. “You go big or you get the hell out of the way.”
Mike feigned reaching in his pocket, “I think I have a coupon from Subway. . .”
“I’ll open your jugular with a stapler, I swear to God.” I warned.
Their laughter was a disparaging slap in the face to my culinary senses. And that’s when it occurred to me that I am living in the age of ‘foodies’- a Forrest Gump-like term defined as ‘a person with a particular interest in food’. Which best describes . . . everybody! Sadly, it’s a Food Network world, full of people who dig the porn but just don’t understand the hustle and flow that goes into the deal.
I wonder if this is what the Cuban Missile Crisis felt like.