Bocadillos: A Taste of Spain in the Heart of the UK

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What Are Bocadillos?

A bocadillo sandwich

¡Hola, sandwich aficionados! Ever wondered if there’s a touch of Spanish sun within the crisp confines of a sandwich? Enter the bocadillo: Spain’s delightful sandwich gift to the world. While tea and scones reign supreme in our British hearts, bocadillos are increasingly making their mark in local cafés across the UK. Talk about some Mediterranean warmth in our chilly climes!

Unwrapping the Bocadillo: What's Inside?

Picture this: a crispy, yet soft baguette, brimming with slices of aromatic jamón or a comforting wedge of tortilla española. The baguette is crucial. It’s like the stage for a flamenco dancer – it holds everything together and sets the rhythm. 

And just as no two flamenco dances are the same, bocadillos also change their rhythm (read: fillings) as you journey across Spain. From spicy chorizo in Seville to salted anchovies in Bilbao, it’s a country of sandwich diversity!

The History of the Bocadillo

In Spain’s vast culinary tapestry, the bocadillo holds a unique and enduring place. While its exact origins are somewhat nebulous, the bocadillo, in essence, is a reflection of Spain’s agricultural and pastoral heritage. Farmers and herdsmen needed sustenance that was portable, durable, and energy-packed for their long days. Enter the bocadillo: simple bread filled with readily available ingredients like cheese, ham, and chorizo.

Central to the bocadillo is the use of the Spanish baguette, known as “barra” or “pistola”. Crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, this bread forms the foundation of the sandwich. Its history intertwines with that of Spain’s bread-making traditions, influenced by various cultures like the Moors and Romans, who occupied the Iberian Peninsula over the millennia.

The British Twist on Bocadillos

Now, we Brits have a knack for adopting and adapting. The bocadillo is no exception. Imagine a fusion of serrano ham with Stilton cheese. Or, brace yourself, a bocadillo with Coronation chicken! Paired with a pint or a classic cuppa, this Iberian import is getting a very British makeover. Pop into trendy cafes from London to Liverpool, and you’ll find these delightful hybrids beckoning.

Making Your Own Bocadillo: A Culinary Adventure

Keen on a DIY bocadillo? Start with the bread. A crusty baguette is non-negotiable. The spread? Think aioli with a hint of garlic or a rich, sun-dried tomato pesto. The fillings are your canvas. Traditional jamón, Manchego cheese, or go wild with some fusion fillings. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil. And voila! You’re now officially a bocadillo aficionado.


Bocadillos vs. British Sandwiches: A Flavorful Face-off

The bocadillo and the classic British sandwich. It’s like comparing flamenco to the waltz. Each has its flair, rhythm, and cultural nuances. Bocadillos relish in their Mediterranean zest, while our sandwiches take pride in their delightful subtlety. But the beauty is that bocadillos aren’t just Spain’s rebuttal to the sandwich; they’re a testament to the variety of the global sandwich stage.

Bocadillos FAQs

How do bocadillos differ from tapas?

While both hail from Spain, tapas are small snacks or appetisers. Bocadillos? They’re the hearty main act!

Is there a vegetarian version of bocadillos?

Absolutely! Think grilled veggies, cheeses, and delicious Spanish olives.

What drink pairs best with a bocadillo?

Traditionally, a chilled beer or soft drink. But hey, we’re in the UK – no one’s judging if you fancy a cup of tea!

The Global Sandwich Scene: Where Bocadillos Stand

Every country waves its flag in the sandwich world. Italy boasts its Panini; France, its gourmet baguette sandwiches. And let’s not forget our British classics, like the trusty BLT or the posh cucumber sandwich. The bocadillo stands tall and proud amidst this global sandwich panorama, offering a crunchy, flavour-packed bite of Spain.

a spanish bocadillo

Conclusion: Embracing the Sandwich Spectrum

From the pubs of Portsmouth to the beaches of Barcelona, the universal language of sandwiches binds us. So, here’s to embracing the delectable spectrum of bocadillos and beyond!

Andy Canter


Ever since I started cooking I’ve been fascinated by how different people’s techniques are and how they best utilise the ingredients around them. Even the person living next door will have their own unique way of frying an egg or cooking a salmon fillet.

This fascination led me on a journey across the globe to discover the countless practices and traditions the world of cooking has to offer. I thought you’d enjoy and find value in sharing that journey with me so I created Cooked Best!