HAVANA TIMES — The Mexican torta, a kind of super-sized sandwich, is a multicultural food. That is why, in Mexico, we come across the “Spanish torta”, prepared with dry-cured ham, the “French torta”, with cheese from Oaxaca and the “Cuban torta,” the best and most expensive one of all.
Mexico’s Cuban sandwich is a culinary obscenity, combining breaded beef, leg of pork, chicken breast and who knows what else – a stack of meats and condiments to last you two lifetimes.
It baffles the Cuban who has just set foot in Mexico City, making one think that Mexicans haven’t gotten wind that the nearby island is actually the home of soy mince-meat and meager chicken rations, dispensed in lieu of fish.
Eventually, one inquires and discovers that people’s perceptions about the island’s economy are rather accurate, finding another myth in their place: that of the Cuban woman, the voluptuous Caribbean with a “lot of meat on her bones.” The name of the sandwich suddenly starts to make sense.
Arriving in Mexico means getting away from Cuban men, away from people who stare at your tits and ass as you walk down the street, the lascivious whistles, the ridiculous pick-up lines and being called “baby” every three seconds.
To arrive in Mexico as a Cuban woman means wearing a dress and having people stare at your knees – only your knees.
Ultimately, it is also living the myth, being the “Cuban sandwich-woman” for the taxi driver, the middle-class professional and the university academic.
“Is it true women in Cuba sleep with you if you give them pair of jeans?” “I’ve been planning a trip to the beaches down there. Is it expensive? A friend of mine went there a short while ago and had a really good time.” I debated between getting off the cab and making it slam into the nearest post on the road.
“I went to Cancun on my last vacation and they offered us three days at a hotel in Varadero. The service wasn’t very good, but the waitresses were spectacular. Just looking at them made the trip worth my while.”
“I don’t think I could be with a Mexican woman. They’re far too stuck-up. You have to have so much coffee with them before you can have sex that you end up with an ulcer. I just bought an apartment; can I get your number?” I wanted to call him a buffoon to his face, but I kept quiet.
For Mexicans, Cuban women are a piece of meat in a bun, a caricature: the 1950s Tropicana rumba dancer, the prostitute of 1990s Havana, the hot Latin girl.
Perhaps women, as a friend of mine would say, cannot help express and suffer a kind of indolent eroticism.