Charcuterie on a Bun
The Gout Special
The Everything but the Kitchen Sink Sandwich
The Mother of all Ham Sandwiches
These were some of the titles that were going through my head on my drive home after picking up my first ever torta de la barda. This is a mega sandwich closely associated with Tampico, Mexico. My friend, Mely Martinez who authors the Mexico in My Kitchen blog, is from there. On a recent visit to Houston she asked me if I knew of any places to get a torta de la barda, and, for all of my travels in Mexico, this was the first that I had heard of it. And so, I went to her blog to get more information on it:
The story, briefly, is that this is a mega sandwich composed of a bolillo that has been slathered with black beans, and is then assembled with pork rings, chorizo style sausage, ham, head cheese, white queso fresco style cheese, yellow cheese, lettuce, tomato, and avocado. It is topped with another slice of ham. It is a sandwich typical of the southern zone of the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico, principally in Ciudad Madero, Tampico, and Altamira. It dates back to 1928 and gets it name from the part of town where it was originally sold...a border fence that separated the railroad, docks and customs offices of the city. In the beginning, I'm told that they were sardine cakes with beans. The clients were the dock and railway workers. But as time went on, and sardines not being to everyone's taste, ham became the default. Its invention is attributed to Don Jose María Bracamontes and his wife Silvestre Martínez Obregón. For more information and a recipe, see the link above.
Well, it turns out that the chain of taquerias, Tacos a la Bala, specializes in them. I picked mine up at the I-45 location.
And here is a photo of the sandwich, deconstructed for you. Chorizo, ham, cheese, pork rinds, et. al.
When I got home, the sandwich was a little cold. I had just found a panini press at a bargain price at the Guild Shop the other week and so I heated it up panini style after I took the above photo. The bread got deliciously crunchy. It was a great sandwich! Mely notes that salsa verde is the perfect accompaniment to this sandwich.
There are now 8 locations for Tacos La Bala in Houston.