|Cuban sandwich master Belarmino Rico of La Pola in West New York.|
Editor's note: The original post said "On Saturday afternoon" and "Saturday" in places, but it was written today, the day before Christmas, and I've corrected it.
This afternoon, Belarmino Rico, wife Maria, their children, grandchildren and the employees of the Cuban sandwich shop known as La Pola were in the final lap of their annual holiday marathon.
"Rico," as everyone calls him, had taken orders for hundreds of hams, ribs, whole pigs and all the tradtional Cuban side dishes, and customers were coming by to say hello and pick up their Christmas dinners.
Rico had a big smile on his face as he wished everyone, "Feliz Navidad."
When the shop closes late this afternoon or evening, the entire Rico family and their employees will collapse into bed after nearly a week of frantic preparations.
|The small shop at Palisade Avenue and 54th Street echoes with holiday greetings.|
|Hams were prepared on the bone, above, and glazed, below.|
|Whole butterflied pigs.|
|Cuban tamales, front, are among holiday side dishes.|
|Joe Rico made the Cuban sandwiches today.|
|The regular breakfast special.|
|A Cuban sandwich or Cubano at La Pola.|