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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.


86 replies »

  1. This is why I enjoy food so much. It can transcend itself, becoming something representative of connection, of memories, of a place we had strong feelings about. And the photos are so good, think I’m going to go have a snack now.

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