On the advice of a famous publicist - and loyal customer - the star product of this historic venta no longer appears as ‘bocadillo de lomo’ on the menu but as ‘Bocadillo Butibamba’.
“He recommended that we change the name because there are a lot of pork sandwiches around but none are like ours,” says Francisco Javier Sepúlveda. “If I were to blindfold you and give you 50 different ones to try, you’d know which one was ours,” he insists. Supposing that anyone would survive a test like that, they would undoubtedly conclude that the difference lies in the tenderness of the meat.
The key, Sepúlveda explains, is in the way the meat is cooked, slowly (it is marinated for 24 hours with sweet paprika, oregano, garlic, vinegar, salt and lard and then fried for two hours or until it passes ‘the fork test’), but there is also a secret ingredient. Because if that is good enough for Coca-Cola, it is certainly good enough for the legendary pork tenderloin of La Butibamba.
“Yes, there is an ingredient ‘X’ and nobody else knows what it is. It happened by accident: it’s something really silly but it completely alters the result, and for the better. It’s what makes the meat so tender,” he says, but he refuses to give any more clues. “Only the family and a chef who has been with us for 30 years knows,” he adds.
The star dishes on the menu are made with this type of meat, displayed in a collage of photos with echoes of the 1970s: they include the Bocadillo Butibamba (made by inserting several pieces of pork, dripping with fat, into a whole baguette,) pork with chips, egg and other additions... The pieces of leftover meat are used to make spreads like ‘zurrapa’ and ‘manteca colorá’ for breakfast, which are also sold in jars as a sort of hyper calorific souvenir. “My son is thinking of selling them in delicatessens in the future,” he says.
Obviously not everything is made with pork: there is a wide range of sandwiches including options for vegans. However, the XXL size is a common denominator. “We recommend ordering half a sandwich if you’re not a big eater,” Francisco Javier Sepúlveda advises.
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