Skip to content

The Talisman Bocadillo

Every day in Barcelona I bought a jamón bocadillo from the market around the corner. It was a morning ritual. Before heading out on my explorations I would enter the bottom floor of the shopping mall near where I was staying. It was a hodgepodge food court of sorts which held an open grocery stall selling bottled refreshments, packaged desserts, and a few cheese selections.


The first day I bought one because I was hungry and couldn’t find anywhere open for breakfast. There they were stacked like bulbous bricks by the counter. They looked nourishing, welcoming, safe. I unwrapped the saran and devoured the semi-hard barra de pan, barely tasting the ham inside, before I even finished paying for it. 

Bocadillo-peppers-BT.JPEGThe second day I bought one because I was going on a long hike and didn’t know if I would be able to find food along the way. That bocadillo saved me from exhaustion during my excursion. Under the strain of the midday sun and the arduous walking nothing tasted as victorious as that bocadillo consumed with a tepid bottle of water.

Bocadillo-jamon-BT.JPEGThe third day I bought one because by that time the bocadillo had taken on the properties of a talisman to me. I couldn’t take on the city until I’d purchased my oblong baguette of jamón. Once I forgot it in my bag until returning home late at night — to find the bread soggy and the meat turned rancid in the heat of my backpack.   

Bocadillo-sandwich-BTStill I got them. The bocadillos became more than a means of sustenance. They were the key to getting me through a foreign city, the cipher to tackling a foreign tongue. They were my good luck charm, ensuring that I would survive the quotidian rigorous assaults to my senses. Traveling robs me of control and challenges my identity. To mitigate the fears that arise from such nudniks I always need a source of solace with me. In Barcelona, these little sandwiches were that source, edible tokens of consolation.



Serves 1                Total Time: 30 minutes [10 minutes preparation; 20 minutes cooking]


For the sandwich:

1 loaf of bread (either baguette or soft roll) 

2 thin slices pork loin

2 thin slices jamón serrano*

1 green bell peppers, sliced lengthwise 

1 large tomato, sliced in circles

2 Tbsp olive oil

Mojo picón sauce

Salt & black pepper


For the mojo picón sauce:

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1 Tbsp white vinegar

3 Tbsp olive oil

⅜ tsp smoked paprika

⅛ tsp ground cumin

Pinch of salt


For the mojo picón sauce:

  1. Mix the garlic, smoked paprika, and cumin in a small bowl.
  2. Beat in the olive oil and vinegar with a fork or whisk and add salt to taste.

For the jamón bocadillo: 

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a small saucepan.
  2. Slice the green peppers and fry them in the oil for 10 minutes or until they are tender.
  3. Remove the peppers onto a plate and add salt to them.
  4. Place the pork loin slices in the same small saucepan of oil and sauté them for 3-4 minutes on one side, or until they are golden brown. Flip the slices onto their opposite side and cook to achieve same amount of color.
  5. Slice the bread in half and toast for 5 minutes or until lightly tanned.
  6. Drizzle each toast with olive oil.
  7. Place peppers, pork loin, tomatoes, and ham between the bread slices.
  8. Pour a bit of mojo picón sauce in between the meat layers or serve on the side as a dip. Enjoy! 

* BT Tip: The jamón Serrano is a relative of the famed jamón Iberico, but comes from Cerdos Blancos (white pigs). For those not eating meat, substitute sardines, omelet, or potatoes and beans for other delicious fillings.


84 replies »

  1. This is so charming, and honest. I like the way you tell a story. It’s true, travel is challenging and food that becomes familiar can make such a difference. It doesn’t hurt that where you were, I’m sure the ham was seriously good and the bread was too. You’ve made me nostalgic for European sandwiches. And the recipe looks great. Cheers!

  2. Oh yes, Atreyee, what a way to start a day in Barcelona. Your photos are tantalizing and the jamon is superb there. I hope to get back to Spain someday soon. Wishing you a year ahead full of fun adventures and inspiring photography!

  3. My gosh, your blog post and photographs took me back to my time in Spain 6 years ago! It’s also making me excited for my trip in June. I’m getting married in Segovia.

    My mouth waters thinking of jamón Iberico, thought I’m so grateful for the vegetarian alternative at the bottom! Thank you! x

    If you’re looking for any hiking suggestions which are a little more “off the beaten path” – I strongly recommend Ordesa Valley. Picos de Europa is also stunning.

    Stay safe, I can’t wait to see where your adventure takes you! 🙂 x

    • Oh my goodness!! Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!! I’m so incredibly happy for you Kylie and wish you all the best.

      Thanks so much for the hiking suggestion! I love exploring anything “off the beaten path” and after city wanderings I’m ready to see more of the Spanish landscape.

      Take care of yourself. ❤️

  4. There are so many things I enjoy about Barcelona and the jamon sandwiches are definitely right up there (and I’m not a ham fan at home). I’m going to try making that sauce…thanks for the recipe.

  5. I love every bit of this post! Short and sweet, temptingly illustrated, and an elevation of daily sustenance to magical powers! These are the kinds of thoughts I have about all sorts of things when I travel, but I don’t do such a beautiful job of getting them down into words as you have.

    • Thanks so much for your delightful comment! The best thing about writing for this blog is to find exactly these sorts of sweet connections with fellow humans and to be able to revel in the weird and wonderful workings of our curiosities.

  6. Yum! From the stories people told me, it seems like everywhere in Spain people treat their local dishes with a high respect so much so the food is consistently good wherever you go. A Canadian TV host and writer even described the country as the food capital of the world. I haven’t been there myself, but one thing I know: I’ll eat a lot and well there.

    • The Catalonians definitely take their food seriously as well as their meal times. Something that was intriguing and delicious to me was experiencing tapas – a moveable snack over a few hours, investigating dishes from restaurant to restaurant.

  7. Bonjour Bespoke Traveler, recevez tous mes bons voeux pour la nouvelle année 2020 et qu’elle soit remplie de beaucoup de bonheur et petits plaisirs chaque jour. Vos photos sont magnifiques et il y a plusieurs années, je suis allée à Barcelone dans les Halles et c’était merveilleux, de bonnes senteurs. J’en garde un bon souvenir.
    Merci de vos gentils mots dans mon blog et tout le meilleur pour vous.
    Mes amitiés 🙂

    • Je vous remercie pour vos aimables paroles. Je suis tellement heureux d’apprendre que vous avez apprécié Barcelone. Les parfums d’un lieu sont souvent les meilleurs souvenirs. Je vous souhaite tout le meilleur dans la nouvelle décennie. Amitiés.

  8. Barcelona is a wonderful city with so much to see but can be incredibly busy can’t it? Those sandwiches look fabulously good though and must keep you going throughout the day.

    • Yes, definitely a busy and vibrant city. I took pleasure in how walkable it was and what different settings it offered ranging from the modern business centers to the historic cathedrals to the beach lifestyle.

  9. I love how you call the humble bocadillo “edible tokens of consolation”, Atreyee. So often it is the simple things in life that evoke the most intense emotions or conjure up the best memories.

    • Agreed. I’ve found that paying attention to the little delights allows me more joy in life. Even when I want to remember back, I can’t picture how exactly a historic landmark made me feel or looked to me, but small incidents stay with me for decades.

    • Many happy returns of the decade! I too love talking about food and its complexity. There’s so much that comes tied to it regarding family history, emotional baggage, science, and the long chronicle of human connection and commingling.

    • Haha, it really was so delicious and handy. I think having it on my hike when it really came into restore me made it something special. Of course it all started because I was lucky in Barcelona to live so close to a market.

  10. I haven’t ever been to Spain but that bread and meat look amazing! Although I think that I might have enjoyed one of those loaves warm with butter. Or option 2 with cheese and wine.

  11. BT!! Hello and a happy new year to you. I enjoy cured meats and the combination of crusty bread and ham sounds delicious! I have yet to visit Barcelona, but I hope to one day. Thank you for giving us a glimpse of your travels through this food.

    • Hello to you fellow Nomad! Given your love of cured meats and crusty bread I think you would fall deeply in love with this little Spanish sandwich, especially when it’s made from the very delicious Iberico ham. Wishing you a very wonderful 2020 and thank you for your so thoughtful comments and posts.

  12. I have a tendency to stick with one local quickie type of food when I travel. Fresh tuna empanadas in Easter Island, for example. If I don’t have a lot of time in a place, I don’t want to lose it sitting in a restaurant. Which is probably not the best attitude to have. May your 2020 be filled with many fabulous adventures, culinary and otherwise.

    • Thank you Jo! I loved Barcelona and especially fell in love with Gaudi’s architecture which transformed how I viewed the world afterwards. Wishing you a happy new year and all the very best!

  13. Happy new year BT! It’s lunch time for me here, and I’m salivating as I read your blog. I am not a fan of bread most days, but your sandwich looks amazing. I recall my time in Barcelona, falling in love with the fresh food and meats. Food was a pleasure there, and because I find myself needing less sustenance now, I want to put only good, fresh products in my body.

    The commercial breads and pre-packaged meats we get in supermarkets simply and don’t compare in taste.


Now let's chat, shall we?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

My Books + Journals

Enter your email and never miss a post:

Join 18,100 other followers

Support Bespoke Traveler

On Social Media

Choose Your Language

My Writing

%d bloggers like this: