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A bocadillo is a Spanish sandwich that can be served with anything, sweet or savoury, from ham and/or cheese to tuna or pulled pork. They are eaten hot or cold. Bocadillos can be made at home, bought on the street or from a restaurant.

What is a bocadillo?

A bocadillo (pronounced “bo-ka-DIE-jo”) is a Spanish sandwich; almost always a white, hard baguette-like sandwich. When it comes to the filling, pretty much anything goes, sweet or savoury, and it can be served hot or cold. People make their bocadillos at home or buy them en route to their ultimate destination from bars, street vendors, cafeterias or specialist fast food chains.

Compared to this country, Spaniards tend to eat more frequently; some people eat five times a day. The bocadillo can be brought out at any of these times, from el Desayuno (breakfast) via la Merienda (the afternoon snack) to la Cena (the supper). 

Traditionally, the Spaniards love simple sandwiches without too many frills. Lettuce leaves, sauces or pickles do not necessarily form part of your sandwich in the country itself. If you order a bocadillo con queso with a glass of cerveza (beer) in a no-nonsense bar, you will get a cheese sandwich, but nothing else – all very minimalist. Although sometimes your sandwich might be rubbed on the inside with sliced tomato.

Simple bocadillos are typically filled with:

  • queso – cheese
  • jámon – ham
  • jámon y queso – ham and cheese
  • lomo – warm pork
  • carne mechada – spicy pulled beef
  • pechuga de pollo – chicken fillet
  • tortilla – omelet
  • atun – tuna
  • especial – this special filling is different per chef, per restaurant and probably also per day

But, as is the case the world over, ordinary dishes also get a culinary makeover in Spain, with the result that more and more pimped-up variants of the bocadillo are appearing on menus. How about roast beef with foie gras and arugula, or a BLT (bacon-lettuce-tomato) with chicken schnitzel?

Did you know?

Bocadillo means “small mouthful”. Although the average Spanish sandwich is slightly bigger than that …

How to make a bocadillo

The hard white rolls are cut open and simply topped with the chosen filling. Simple.

How to eat

Standing or sitting at the bar of a Spanish eatery, that’s the best place to eat your bocadillo. Or behind your computer screen, on the train or at home at the kitchen table. After all, anywhere and anytime is good for a bocadillo. 

Also try

The Vietnamese are also fond of a filled baguette. Their version? Banh mi.

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