Posts Tagged ‘Cuban Bread’

Drift away


A cherished old photograph of my grandfather hung on my wall until recently when it mysteriously crashed to the floor. The glass broke, and the frame cracked, but thankfully the picture, probably a century old, survived intact.

It was kind of fun to take it to be re-framed for I hadn’t really looked that closely at it for a long time. As I studied the face of my twelve or thirteen year-old grandfather I noticed how much my Mother looks like him. The resemblance in some cases may only be apparent to me—the straightness of the upper lip and the set of his eyes— but nevertheless it is there. This drew me toward my mirror. How much of those little jigsaw pieces found their way to my face? The older I get the more I notice the resemblance to my Mother, so therefore I must have some of his features too.

I have always noticed that I also have a similar attention span to that of my Mother: zero.

This becomes apparent when I watch movies or TV or go to the theater. Five minutes and my mind has gone elsewhere. I will often catch myself and remind myself, “You’ve been looking forward to watching this show for days, PAY ATTENTION!”

Often I find myself with a particular group of friends for a night of watching some special event or another on TV. This usually involves Chinese or Vietnamese food, and dessert. Sadly, whatever knockout attire Brad and Angelina may have been wearing on the red carpet goes swiftly off my radar in favor of a second taste of “Goi Du Du”, an amazing green papaya and spicy beef salad we always order.

That answers one vital question: just where does my mind go when it drifts away? Answer: the buffet. Fortunately I have retained some measure of self control over my appetite, along with a sense obligation to my friends. “Put down the fork and PAY ATTENTION!”

(I became aware of this one time when a friend said he had the impression that the rest of the world disappeared when I eat.)

Okay, sorry. I enjoy my num-num, what can I say? But it isn’t just idle daydreaming that is happening when I drift away. Generally I am thinking, “How did they make this?” or “What’s that little flavor in the background.”

If the food is terrible—or even worse, non-existent (No!), I start thinking, “I wonder if I can pick something up on the way home?” This is accompanied by a quick estimate of how far out of my way this will take me.

The worst, of course, is “the bad sandwich.” I have used quotation marks to indicate a bit of drama. We have all been held captive by “the bad sandwich.” The unique selling points of “the bad sandwich” are: rubbery wraps, flavorless cold cuts, and unidentified sauce.

Not long ago while choking down a bad sandwich I made a vow to never be guilty of such a sin. As we’re about to enter Super Bowl / Award Show season I am prepared to make good on this commitment and naturally I am starting with the bread.

As we live in the era of the wrap I understand that many people consider the bread portion of the sandwich to simply be an edible bit of dinnerware—a food carrier. I consider the bread to be an integral part of any sandwich. Bad sandwich bread is like bad frosting on a cake.

I cherish the crunch of the crust and the chew of the inside. (Too intense?) Here’s my acid test for good sandwich bread: if it squishes when you go to cut your sandwich the bread is unsuitable for sandwich use. Here’s my suggestion. Use Pan Cubano, Cuban Bread.

This bread has a hearty, crunchy crust, and a sturdy interior that doesn’t melt away when you throw a bit of mustard on it. By design Cuban Bread is meant to be squished and take it with a smile. A Cuban sandwich is pressed like a Panini but without the grill marks. It is usually filled with ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard, but don’t feel hemmed in by its habits. Just pay tribute to me, and fill it with lots of flavor. This is no place for mild deli meat; this is the land of tangy cold cuts, and a bit of pepper.

Cuban Bread’s stocky demeanor also lends itself to a bit of off label use because it makes the best garlic bread ever.

If you’re a beginner to bread baking you’ll find this to be one of the simpler bread recipes around, although I don’t recommend attempting it without a loyal, trusty Kitchen Aid to do the work for you.

On the other hand, if you choose to do without the stand mixer, you can always log baking Cuban Bread as an upper body workout.


Click here for the recipe for Cuban Bread


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