The Elena Ruz, also sometimes known as a Cuban Turkey Sandwich (not to be confused with the equally tasty Cuban Sandwich), is an exquisitely scrumptious sandwich, though it might not seem so at first. It is made thusly:

Simply take:

and put them all together. It's that easy. At the same time, almost everyone I've ever described this sandwich to has had a similar reaction: "Yuck!" But the truth is, this sandwich is actually quite good. The reasons seem to be two-fold: First, the cream cheese does something that really brings the flavors of the turkey and the strawberry preserves together in a really good way. The preserves and the turkey are what really seem to be the mutually exclusive elements of this sandwich, and might very well taste bad together without the cheese.

But also, there seems to be some overlooked quality that comes with mixing meat or other such savory foods with sweet stuff like fruit. Pineapple pizza is another good example of this. Your mileage may vary of course, and I'm far from qualified to talk about the relative merits of flavors and their combinations, but I know what I like, and this sandwich has yet to do me wrong.

The history of this sandwich, much like the sandwich itself, is short and to the point. It seems the sandwich is named after a young Cuban debutante who frequented an all-night diner in Havana, and would always ask the chef to prepare this sandwich for her. Thus the sandwich was born and named after her. As for what prompted her to create such an odd meal, sources seem to be inconclusive on this point...

Though the ingredients I posted above seem to be the normal combination, there are a lot of variations used when making this sandwich. Some of the more common I've heard including substituting the strawberry preserves with cranberries (which could be great for thanksgiving leftovers) or marmalade, or anything sweet tasting like that. Many recipes also call for the crusts to be cut off of the sides of the sandwich.

Though I've never been to Cuba, evidence would suggest that it's a fairly common sandwich to find in restaurants and diners in the area. But who needs to buy it when it's so easy to make! The ingredients are so common that it's hardly an inconvenience. If you have the means, you really owe it to yourself to try it, no matter how strange it might seem.

Happy eating!

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