Full disclosure: I’m not usually a ham sandwich person. I love sandwiches—I even moved to Mallorca to open my own sandwich shop. But aside from an occasional jamón serrano, you’d never find me jonesin’ for a ham sandwich—until I tried a triangulo sandwich from Bar El Eme in Bilbao. My sandwich world was forever changed. With just five ingredients: ham, lettuce, mayonnaise, spicy sauce and white bread, you have to wonder: How could something so simple be so good? Is it the artisanal bread, baked fresh daily? Is it the supreme quality of the ham? Or maybe it’s the aura surrounding the spicy sauce, with a secret recipe that’s been passed down through four generations. Recently, I took a trip to my favorite Basque city for another taste of that mythical sandwich, and to see if I could figure out the secret sauce inside. —Caitlin Raux Gunther
Caitlin is a Paris-based writer and editor. She wrote about food and wine while living in Madrid after college, and had a brief career as a lawyer before moving back to Spain to work in restaurants and attend culinary courses at the Basque Culinary Center in San Sebastian. She has worked or staged at Septime in Paris, Mina and Nerua in Bilbao, and Bien Cuit in Brooklyn. In 2018, she and her husband launched a pop-up sandwich shop in Mallorca, Spain. Caitlin now lives in an ovenless apartment in the 9th arrondissement with her husband, Guillaume, and daughter, Mimi. Update: we have an oven now.