Location: Bo de B
Sandwich: Bocadillo de pollastre y vedella
Over the past weeks, I took the blog over to Barcelona with the hopes of expanding my sandwich horizons in Europe. My first few days in Spain were met with some of the best food and friendliest people imaginable but not a whiff of sandwich. Before despairing, I looked at a recommendation from a dear friend and former coworker about a potential gem in the awe-inspiring, yet unknown, landscape before me. I was guided by her recommendation (and Google location services which I naively just realized needs no wifi or data to connect to in order to determine where you are) to the edge of the famed Gothic Quarter. We walked until we found a small, open square where, almost hidden completely by a single bicycle, was the tiny restaurant. We may have missed it if not for the bright letters of the sign, and thankfully we didn’t and were able to enjoy the delicious lunch that Bo de B gave us.
The Spanish word “bocadillo” translated to English has two parts: “boca” meaning mouth and the diminutive suffix “-illo” with the d slapped in as letter-glue (probably). Ironically, every bocadillo that we ended up coming across in Bo de B (and all of Spain for that matter) was practically an entire, thick baguette cut lengthwise and stuffed to the gills. We ended up splitting two between the four of us and being satisfied.
When we stepped into the shop, it was already full to bursting with customers. There were dozens of ingredients behind the counter, trays of raw meat in appealing looking marinades that would be fire grilled to order, and hurried young employees running cash to the register and ingredients to sandwiches. When it was my turn, I quickly threw out my order in my busted Spanish and watched the cook scoop two healthy servings of meat for our sandwiches from the trays and head to the back corner where the flame grill waited. Quickly, I stepped outside so the folks ahead of me could pay and I could get my ass out of the faces of the customers seated and eating at the tables near the order counter.
As the server called me back in to tell what I wanted inside, I panicked and just yelled “todo!” They kindly obliged, stuffing ingredient after delicious ingredient into the roll that had no chance of holding it all.
To be honest, I have no idea what went inside exactly. In addition to our steaming chicken and beef, I saw a flurry of cucumbers, peppers, lettuce, tomato, cabbage, onion, olives (which I usually avoid, but they were Spanish olives and absolutely necessary here), feta-like cheese, and at least three delicious sauces that were creamy and generously applied.
Before the sandwich could explode, the cook quickly snatched a piece of foil and wrapped it up keeping everything in place. All told, the bocadillo was very affordable; we paid for two what an equivalent Bay Area sandwich would cost for one.
There is little I can do to describe the first bite. I saw every part of the sandwich process, mentally prepared for the result, and was still in surprised bliss as I was eating. The cheese and sauce made every bite succulent and dangerous as we had no immediate access to laundry services (it costs like $12 to do a load in Spain… it’s nuts). I will say these were messy beasts, a quality which I welcome but some sandwich lovers prefer to avoid. Adaptations were necessary, and Barton innovated a now patented sandwich stance to avoid drippage on pants and shoes.
It could have been the week of traveling through a foreign country that made something familiar taste extra delicious. It also could have been the company of great friends on an adventure together that elevates any simple experiences and makes them feel incredible. But I think in reality the folks at Bo d Be know what they are doing. They get how to create comfort in a meal for their patrons regardless of who steps through the door. I may never be back, but if you happen to be in Barcelona and need a sandwich fix, look no further.
Thanks again to @lookattheclauds and for the first time to Barton for the pics!