If food defines culture, then what kind of city is Tampa? The answer can be found in these 10 notable meals, which together offer a taste of the city’s charmingly crazy history.
Editor’s note: When it comes to Tampa history stories during Thanksgiving, the guy who wrote a book about the Cuban sandwich is probably your go-to source. Luckily, that author—Andy Huse, an archivist in Special Collections on the Tampa campus at the University of South Florida Libraries—wrote “A history of Tampa in 10 Meals” for Creative Loafing Tampa Bay way back in 2008.
I stumbled upon the piece while researching Huse’s latest book “The Cuban Sandwich: A History in Layers,” which he co-authored with Bárbara C. Cruz, Professor of Social Science Education at USF, and Jeff Houck, former Food Editor at Tampa Tribune.
All of the meals here are fascinating for their historic significance, and while some may be somewhat expected (oysters at the old Tampa Bay Hotel, Christmas at MacDill Field), others are hilarious (a hot meal at the airport) and downright jaw-dropping (integration at the Woolworth lunch counter, the fact that downtown Tampa’s University Club didn’t admit women until the late-’80s).
We hope you enjoy revisiting this vintage CL content as much as we did.—Ray Roa