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Food & Dining

No loafing allowed as team puts together record Cuban sandwich

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 12:27 AM
TAMPA -

Bending at the waist inside a small, blue trailer, Robert Faedo pressed his forearms against the counter top and peered through the window.

On the other side, a group of four wanted to know, "What's a Cuban?"

Faedo, it just so happens, was the right guy to ask.

"Ham, salami and pork, those are your main meats," said Faedo, who with his wife Michelle, runs Michelle Faedo's On the Go food truck. "Then, an all-the-way version is mayonnaise, mustard, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles. Or you have the traditional version: Mustard, cheese, and pickles and toasted."

The Faedos, who won May's 2012 Cuban Sandwich Festival in the traditional category, were one of several participants at Saturday's Taste of the Cuban sandwich event inside Hillsborough Community College's Ybor campus.

While there, they helped Tampa collect a little history.

During the festival, which included at least nine other food vendors, organizers created the world's largest Cuban – 36 feet. The new record surpasses Miami's 30-foot creation, slathered together in December.

"Now people are starting to put a little more love into it," Michelle Faedo said. "Have a little more pride, showing people who come to visit Tampa our historic cuisine."

Beneath the gray hue of clouds and ample rain drops, two men carried a box, spanning at least 5-feet in length, of Cuban bread into the HCC Ybor Room. After the plastic wrap was torn off, and the box cut open, the baked roll - 36 feet of it – was laid end-to-end. Each restaurant was responsible for a 3-foot section.

Folks from The Columbia Restaurant completed the final portion of the record-setting sandwich.

Organizers donated the 432-inch creation to Tampa Bay Harvest to feed local homeless.

"We take it very serious," Yvonne "Yolie" Capin, a member of the Tampa City Council, said of the sandwich. "It's part of our heritage. It's who we are. The Cuban sandwich was born of diversity.

"You have the Cuban pork, you have the ham, which is Spanish. You have the Swiss cheese and the pickles, German and Jewish; you have the salami, which is Italian and of course the bread is original to Tampa and we're sticking to that story. Some people said what about the African Americans? There were Afro-Cubans in Ybor."

In April, the city council approved a proclamation tabbing the sandwich Tampa's own.

Here since May, the Tamang Family had never tried the Cuban. From Nepal and in Tampa for two years, Hema Tamang brought her son, Ayush, and daughter Ayumi, to Ybor for the event.

"It's very exciting," Hema Tamang said.

Hema Tamang, whose husband is stationed at MacDill, tabbed her son as a food lover, implying he'd get a kick out trying something new.

She was right.

"It's going to be our new experience," said an enthusiastic Ayush Tamang, 13.

With the help of friend Dena Leavengood, the family sampled both the traditional and all-the-way versions of the sandwich. No words were needed to convey what they thought. Each member of the group lit up after biting into the fare.

"For me, cooking and feeding people and watching their happiness, it makes me happy," Michelle Faedo said. "That's just how we go."


edaniels@tampatrib.com (813) 371-1860 Twitter: @EddieDTampaTrib

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