The history of the Cuban sandwich is as rich and layered as its ingredients. Although commonly associated with Cuba, one can't simply find it at every corner in the country. The sandwich, as known today, adheres to a strict composition including Cuban bread, smoked ham, roast pork marinated in mojo, Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles. The sandwich is then pressed and toasted. The origin of this sandwich remains disputed, with some tales suggesting its inception over 500 years ago by the Taíno tribe in Cuba, which used casabe bread and filled it with fish or bird meat.
However, its modern form is believed to have been influenced by the movement of Cuban workers between Cuba and Florida in the late 1800s and early 1900s. These workers, based in cigar factories and sugar mills, blended their culinary preferences with those of other migrants, including Italians, Germans, and Spaniards. This fusion led to the inclusion of ingredients like salami and mustard. While Tampa has documented evidence of the sandwich from the 1900s and claims to have introduced Cuban bread, Miami asserts that the sandwich gained worldwide fame due to their significant Cuban population post Fidel Castro's rise to power in 1959. The debate between Tampa and Miami, especially concerning the addition of Italian salami, continues to be a topic of contention among aficionados.