On my way home from Nashville on Friday, I was really craving a Cuban sandwich so I figured I’d stop by Back to Cuba Cafe, Nashville’s only (as far as I know) Cuban restaurant. It’s tucked in a little shopping center off of Trousdale Avenue, about 10-15 minutes from campus. I walked in and was greeted with the familiar sound of Cuban music; Cuba-related memoriabilia decorated the walls. I walked up to the counter and asked the girl for un sandwich cubano, por favor, and her answer? “We’re not serving them today.” What?! How can you have a Cuban restaurant and at any point in time NOT be serving a Cuban sandwich! Sheer irresponsibility! Blatant heresy! I didn’t say this to the chick because I have a hard time being mean to people still in braces, so I ordered Pan con Lechon instead, because if I was going to have a different sandwich, it was still going to have pork in it, dammit!
Pan con Lechon is a sandwich made with Cuban bread (of course), seasoned roast pork, sauteed onion, and mojo sauce, which is a mixture of garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, and orange and lemon juice. I sat at one of the empty tables and waited for my order, which I wanted to go. The only other people at the restaurant were a group of Mexican men (at least I think so by their Spanish), one of which took a long, unabashed look at my legs on his way to the restroom. It didn’t bother me, of course. Can I help it if I’m young and attractive? (Ok, ok, I’ll take it down a notch.) Honestly, it didn’t bother me because that’s just what Latino men do. Ever been to Italy, or another European country? It’s the same thing. I’m as much a feminist as any woman, but I don’t feel objectified. It can be flattering. I already feel good about myself (see previous sentence, “Can I help it if…”), so I don’t need the validation, but being admired is always nice. My ex-boy friend used to absolutely hate it when they would stare at me. We were at Kroger shopping one time and a group of Mexican men were checking me out, and he got violently pissed. “Do they have to make it so obvious?!” I tried to explain that it’s really no big deal, that it was a cultural thing, but no dice. Aren’t most men flattered that other men find their girlfriend attractive? I guess he felt threatened out of insecurity. Who knows? Who cares.
Anyway, I finally got my sandwich, along with a mango milkshake that was divine, and got in my car. I attempted to eat the sandwich while driving down I-65, which worked for the most part. I didn’t die, but I did have to pick pieces and onion and pork out of my lap. The sandwich was good. I was still not totally convinced it was great, because I was expecting to eat a Cuban sandwich that day, but I couldn’t stop eating it. It was actually really good. It took a lot of willpower to save the other half for my mom. Later on, both my parents tried it and were really impressed. I’ve only had two sandwiches as of yet from Back to Cuba Cafe, but it bodes well for the rest of their menu. The service isn’t really all that cheery and the management seems disorganized, but the food seems to be good. I haven’t had their dessert, but I bet that I could do better. ; ) I’m still disturbed that they weren’t serving Cuban sandwiches, but I would go there again…although I think if I opened a Cuban restaurant I could give them major competition.