Today I’m going to tell you about a dish that’s many Yucatecos’ favorite, and that is never missing from our tables during any celebrations, especially in December: Sandwichón.
If you’ve lived here for a while, you’ve surely come across it in one way or another. If you’ve never been served a slice at a party, you may have seen that local bakeries and supermarkets carry loaves of white sandwich bread sliced horizontally; that is, instead of having, say, 25 square slices, a loaf of Sandwichón bread is sold in five or six long, rectangular slices.
For people who didn’t grow up in Yucatán, Sandwichón is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, and covered with cheese sauce. Many are intrigued by the flavor combination; others, by the quirky shape; and some others, by the softness of the bread, moistened by the paté. True, if you don’t know what’s coming, the experience can be a little strange, but isn’t that true of any dish that’s different from what we’re used to?
The original recipe for Sandwichón belongs to Don Petronilo Vázquez Madera, a Yucatecan baker from Cansahcab, who gave Yucatecos plenty of culinary innovations. Crustless sandwich bread, Arrolladitos (bread/paté rolls), and, of course, the subject of this story are his creations.
Combinations are endless, and, in truth, you will hardly find two people who make Sandwichón exactly the same way. However, there are two main types of Sandwichón that we might say are both the best known and the best liked:
Sandwichón Tradicional, or cheese Sandwichón
This is the OG. It stands out by its bright orange color, which it gets from the cheese and bell pepper sauce (which we call Paté) that completely covers it. Inside you’ll usually find at least two types of paté: the aforementioned bell pepper and cheese paté (usually made with a mix of Manchego-style, Deysi, and maker’s choice cheeses) and a ham paté. It is usually decorated with peas and sliced bell peppers.
Sandwichón confetti, or white Sandwichón
This more recent variation has gained popularity and has become many people’s favorite due to its combination of sweet and salty. Inside, it usually has the same two ham and cheese patés, but there’s also a layer of jam, usually strawberry. Instead of orange cheese sauce, this one is covered with cream cheese-based sauce and decorated with chopped pecans, which makes for a unique, delicious flavor combination.
As previously stated, this delicious dish is a December staple, present at every gathering and celebration. You absolutely come across it in Platos de Fiesta (party plates) and special occasions year-round, but I can confidently say that most families in Yucatán try at least one Sandwichón around this time of year.
Due to the high demand, you wouldn’t believe how hard it can be to find the ingredients to make it once December nears. From early on you’ll see long lines of people waiting at bakeries to get the best loaves (each family has a preferred bakery, where they believe the softest loaves are found), empty shelves where canned bell peppers used to be at supermarkets, pecans become harder to find, and cream cheese prices go up.
Both Sandwichón consumers and people who make them know that the best ones are soft and moist, and include generous amounts of paté between each layer to be properly enjoyed. That’s why I’d dare say that making a good one takes much more than it might seem. You need to know exactly how much of each ingredient you’ll need to make the patés, season them properly, moisten the bread so the texture is right, and, of course, very carefully put it together and then decorate it.
All of us Yucatecos look forward to having a generous portion of Sandwichón on our plate, as, to us, it tastes like family, tradition, and love. So if you have the opportunity to try this dish, often maligned by the uninitiated, I encourage you to try it and keep in mind that the more homemade, the better. If you’re thinking of getting a whole one this month, it’s a good idea to order in advance, though you’ll also find it at several shops and bakeries. I’m sure you won’t regret it.
Sandwichones caseros de Fernanda Tuz
Tel. 999 356 5611
Sucursales: Lindavista y Alemán
FB: Frannys Delicias Oficial
Av. Líbano x calle 17, México Norte
By Arianne Osalde.
Yucatecan marketeer with more dreams than what’s healthy to have. Loving every corner of my beloved Yucatán, but waiting each December to enjoy the “heladez” (and presents, really).
Photography by Doña Fanny, Alicia Navarrete Alonso, and Bocadito for use in Yucatán Today.
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