Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Cook: Vegetarian Cuban

(Originally posted June 12th, 2012)

Today’s lunch was the product of a number of unrelated occurrences that have taken place over the last several months.

It all started when my friend Becca randomly posted on my (insert social media page here) that she had just enjoyed a vegan Cuban at a restaurant in Chicago. I want one, I thought.

Skip ahead a month or two and there was an article in one of the free dailies that are circulated around Tampa about the food fight taking place between Tampa and Miami in regards to the Cuban sandwich. I read the article and immediately began thinking again, I want one.

Then, two weeks ago, Tampa hosted a Cuban Sandwich Festival that invited restaurants from all over Tampa (and a few from Miami) to come out and compete in a best Cuban competition. I briefly thought about going, realized it was the worst place a vegetarian could go outside of Bern's steakhouse, and moved on to other things. But I still wanted a Cuban.

It seems like the Cuban sandwich has been everywhere recently. And each time I see it, the sandwich is staring back at me and laughing with its glugged up meat guts. Why wouldn’t someone make a vegetarian Cuban that I could enjoy? I went to bed last night wishing upon a star for a vegetarian Cuban.

I woke up this morning and instead of my normal, annoying ass alarm, the radio was playing. On it was Eminem rapping about sitting back and wishing and how that wasn’t going to get anything done. I felt like he was speaking right to me. If I really wanted a vegetarian Cuban the best way to get one is to make it myself.

Now before I jump into the description of my neutered version of the sandwich let me say that I could’ve bought (or made) some meat replacers to stuff inside the bread since part of what makes a Cuban a Cuban is its trio of meat. But after much contemplation I decide that isn’t really what I wanted. I just wanted the sandwich, minus the meat. So that’s what I went with.

The most important part of the Cuban is the bread. You could use French or Italian bread but then it wouldn’t be a Cuban. You need authentic,Cuban style, palm frond covered bread (be sure it doesn't contain lard). So I went out this morning to one of Tampa’s most famous breadmakers, La Sequnda  Central Bakery, and got me a gigantic loaf (I also purchased a guava pastryfor J-Fur). I returned home, accidentally hitting a kid in the head in the process because my loaf was so big, and began construction. Vegan swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles and a wheelbarrow full of special sauce (aka mustard). I placed it on a flat pan, put a cast iron skillet on top to smash it and began heating the sandwich. About five minutes a side does the trick. I served it with a side of baked pickle logs. Now what to do with the remainder of that loaf…

Pair it with these dark pop sounds.