Two new sandwiches. Two completely diverse styles and backgrounds. The Buck Stops Here is pleased to announce that we are adding a gyro and cuban sandwich to our menu! Both are made with in-house ingredients, but that is where the similarities between the two sandwiches come to a halt. Each sandwich has a unique history that is as rich as the flavors they both possess. In order to better appreciate such delectable marvels, let’s take a look at how these two sandwiches evolved into the favorite lunch items we know today.
Gyros are believed to have originated from Greece, with potential influence from the Turkish döner kebab and the Middle Eastern shawarma. The only difference is that the kebab and shawarma use slice meat, whereas the gyro uses meat from a minced loaf. This gyro, however, was never mass-produced in Europe. The sandwich we know today as the gyro is somewhat of a recent invention, with origins dating back to the 1970’s in New York; therefore, the gyro is considered an American-Greek item.
Up until the early 1970’s, gyro cones were made one at a time in restaurant kitchens. Then came the gyro cone manufacturing plants, which were able to mass produce and transport the meat across the country. Today, gyros are enjoyed across the country as well as all over the world.
Gyro meat typically consists of beef and lamb that is stacked or ground together and formed into a cone shape using hydraulic pressure. The cones are placed on a rotisserie, which is where the gyro gets its name—pronounced “YEE-roh,” the word is Greek for “spin.” The meat is then sliced off the cones and folded on a warm pita with a dollop of tzatziki, lettuce, and tomato. At The Buck Stops Here, the only difference between these gyros and ours is that we don’t use processed meat, but rather meat that is thinly sliced off a roast leg of lamb. You’ll be able to taste the quality and freshness in the first bite!
The cuban sandwich has a long history with influences from both cultural and historical events. Before the sandwich was labeled a “cuban,” the people of Cuba had just known it as un sandwich (a sandwich) or un mixto (mix of meats). The sandwich itself has been a Cuban tradition since the early 1500’s. The Spaniards brought Ham and cheese to Cuba, with cheese also being made by Cuba’s native inhabitants, the Taino and Arakakas. The Cubans also made a special kind of bread that was crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, and had a bloom in the center of a long loaf.
The sandwich made its way to the United States in the 1870’s, when Cubans migrated to Key West, Florida to avoid Spanish rule. With them came Cuban cigar manufacturers that wanted a safer place to produce their cigars. During this time, the sandwich had become the main food staple for Cuban workers living in the Florida area. This period marks the beginning of Cuban influence in Florida.
In 1886, El Principe de Gales, a large cigar factory owned by Vincente Martinez Ybor, was destroyed in a fire. A committee in Tampa encourages Ybor to move his factory to the city. This event marks the end of the cigar industry in Key West, but the beginning of Tampa’s title as a dominant cigar manufacturing center as well as the rise of Ybor City.
In 1896, La Joven Francesca Bakery opens in Ybor City, and becomes the first bakery to bake Cuban bread. In 1915, La Segunda opens and becomes the powerhouse of baking Cuban bread. As of today, La Segunda remains a third-generation, family-owned bakery that produces most of Tampa’s Cuban bread. The bread is one of the most important parts of the cuban sandwich, for the bread must maintain a soft, chewy texture while being cooked and pressed. The way the sandwich is pressed is also important. The steady application of heat causes the flavors of the ingredients to blend together into a sandwich that is full of flavor, all while maintaining a crunch in the crust of the bread.
Over the years, a rivalry developed between Miami and Tampa as to which city was the true origin of the cuban sandwich. Miami argued that they were the Cuban capitol of the U.S., and that the cuban sandwich need only to be made with the original ingredients—roast pork, ham, pickles, swiss cheese, mustard, and Cuban bread. Tampa, however, has the history of the cigar workers on their side, and adds another element to their sandwich that incorporates another cultural group. The large Italian community in Ybor City began to blend with the Cuban culture; thus, genoa salami was added to the cuban sandwich.
In 2012, more than 7,200 people voted on whether the true home of the cuban sandwich was Miami or Tampa. The results were: 57% Tampa, 43% Miami. The Tampa City Council established the “Historic Cuban Sandwich” as the town’s signature sandwich, declaring an official list of ingredients and the process of making the sandwich. They even have a Cuban Sandwich Festival.
Our new cuban sandwich remains true to the traditional version that the Miami citizens believe to be the true cuban sandwich. We layer pulled pork, sliced ham, swiss cheese, and our special mustard-based sauce on a hoagie roll. The sandwich is then grilled on a panini press to ensure an authentic sandwich experience.
The more you know about the foods you choose to eat, the better your experience is. To understand the background of the gyro and cuban sandwich is to better understand the way classic food items have been shaped in our diverse, American culture. We are delighted to have the opportunity to offer our customers these new options. Stop into The Buck Stops Here today and give one of our new sandwiches a try!
Sources http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/15/dining/15gyro.html https://whatscookingamerica.net/History/Sandwiches/GyroSandwich.htm https://whatscookingamerica.net/History/Sandwiches/CubanSandwich.htm http://www.today.com/food/great-cuban-sandwich-debate-795610 http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2012/04/25/151357876/the-cuban-sandwich-crisis-has-a-winner-tampa http://wusfnews.wusf.usf.edu/post/cuban-sandwich-crisis-case-tampa#stream/0