In my extensive planning for three weeks in Spain, I had been well-prepared for the ham. I knew there would be a lot of it, and people in most or all corners of Spain had a fanatical devotion to it.
My first day in Barcelona had begun approximately 30 hours earlier back in Canada. I had flown half-way across my country, then back over it, plus the Atlantic Ocean, plus a good deal of continental Europe, plus a five-hour “orientation” walk around Barcelona while waiting for my room at Hostal Girona, I was hungry.
I had been spoiling for some jamón since I touched down in Catalunya. Wandering through the Eixample (“eye-sham-ple”) to a quieter section of street that was close to the hostal, I spied what I really wanted:
Blowing most of a day’s food budget on a platter of jamón and Coca-Cola for one person did not seem like a responsible, adult decision. The compromise was the list of hot sandwiches or entrepans (in Català) or bocadillos (in Castellano/Spanish). After about thirty seconds of broken Català, Spanish, a bit of French, and a lot of gesturing, I discovered the hot sandwich that has been missing in my life: the Biquini.
The biquini is unremarkable in composition: bread, serrano ham, manchego cheese, grilled. For a grilled cheese junkie like me, however, it is heaven on a plate. Crusty toasted bread, salty-sweet melted cheese, with tasty jamón in the middle. Say no more.
When my new friend, the proprietor, returned to my table, I got to bust out my first intelligible sentence in Català: “Un biquini, i un vi negre, si us plau!” A biquini sandwich and a glass of house red, because, if nothing else, I am a classy lady.
Iberian Nature was a terrific resource for getting an historical overview of food, bread, and sandwiches in Catalunya and Spain.