Wednesday, January 21, 2009

There's a What?

Today the Tribune reported that the police raided a grow house in Tampa. But that's not what caught my eye. It was that the grow house was hidden in an old Army Air Corps underground ammunition bunker, which is now evidently part of somebody's yard!

The house is in the Drew Park neighborhood, east of the airport and west of the stadium. During World War II, Drew Park was part of Drew Field, an Army Air Corps training base.

Every house has a story. Some are more eventful than others.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


From other blogs:

Gulfstream Park Opens, 1944 (Colin's Ghost) History of the horse racing track at Gulfstream Park

Frostproof (The South Florida Watershed Journal) The Floridian winter wonderland

Bites of the Alligator (The Keeper's Blog) A steamboat wreck on the St. Johns River

Ringling's Isles (Architecture Research) Development of St. Armand's Key

From newspapers:

"Busch Gardens to end 50-year flow of free beer" St. Petersburg Times, January 6, 2009

"Old Pinellas school could become teacher housing " St. Petersburg Times, November 12, 2008

"Couple buys 80-year-old penthouse of Babe Ruth" St. Petersburg Times, January 2, 2009

"Citrus grove grew with owner's passion " St. Petersburg Times, January 2, 2009

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Cuban Bread

Somewhere, hopefully, there is a sociologist or anthropologist studying how and why local traditional foods appear on local public school menus. Growing up in Texas, it was burritos; teaching in north Florida it was sweet potato casserole. But today I'd like to draw that sociologist's, that anthropologist's, attention and yours to the case of Cuban bread in Tampa's school cafeterias.

For decades, Ybor City's La Segunda Bakery has made fresh, crusty loaves of Cuban bread for nearly 200,000 students in the Hillsborough County School District. Recently, demands to eliminate trans-fats from the lunchroom threatened to end this tradition. Fortunately, the bakery was able to tweak the recipe, cut the lard, and keep the contract.

The scent of Cuban bread has been a part of Ybor City for over one hundred years. In the nineteenth century, Cuban bakers stretched dough into long loaves, allowing more slices to be cut from a single loaf. Immigrants brought this bread style to Florida, where it lent itself to the creation of the Cuban sandwich. A palm frond placed on each loaf before it is baked creates a natural split the length of the bread. For decades, family-owned bakeries turned out hundreds of loaves each morning. The loaves were trundled down brick and dirt streets on carts or trucks to deliver families' daily bread. On each porch a nail stuck out from the wall by the front door, and upon this nail the delivery man impaled the bread.

Although many of the bakeries have gone out of business, a handfull still produce fresh Cuban bread to accompany each meal. Friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and business associates linger in cafes of a morning, dunking toasted and buttered slices of bread into steaming cups of cafe con leche. By enjoying local Cuban bread with their lunches, Tampa's students are partaking in a tradition that has been this city's the staff of life for more than a century.


Further Reading:

Cuban Bread Video from Mauricio Faedo's Bakery Tampa Florida USA

"Dough! Not My Job: Cuban Bread Maker" (Tampa Tribune, April 30, 2007)

Kitchen Warfare's Cuban Bread (Tampa Style)

Visit the Ybor City Museum State Park to see a historic bakery and its oven (the museum is in the former Ferlita bakery), as well as the nail by the casita door where bread was delivered.