Elena Ruth Sandwich Variations

According to Raquel Roque in her book “350 Recetas criollas” ( published as The Cuban Kitchen in English) Elena Ruth was a spinster, the child of Americans living in Havana, Cuba.  She used to attend the ballet, and after the show would go across the street to El Carmelo café (the one on Calzada Street, across from the Amadeo Roldán theater, I think although I am not sure) where they would make her a custom-made sandwich: half Cuban and half American. Every time she would arrive, the waiter would yell to the cook: “Here is Elena Ruth.  Make her the usual!”  Soon, the other patrons began to request the same, named the sandwich after her, and the legend was born.

The Elena Ruth consists of white bread without crust, cold cut turkey, strawberry jam and cream cheese.  The other day, it occurred to me that it would taste much better using other cheeses, and I made four different sandwiches using different cheese and jam combinations, but keeping the same kind of bread and the cold cut turkey. These were the new combinations:


  • Brie + cherry
  • Feta + grape
  • Blue cheese + figs
  • Garlic Boursin+ lemon curd

The one I liked best was the blue cheese and figs jam, but they are all delicious and better than the original.  And I do hope Elena, wherever she may be, will pardon me for saying so.


If you cannot find dinner rolls of the correct size, use regular packaged bread (of the Wonder Bread kind) and just cut off the crust.