It is my intention to celebrate the sandwich this year by finding as many tasty examples as possible, with a special emphasis on fringe styles, but also presenting sandwiches that were considered more normal 30 years ago that now seem quaint. I will do this weekly and periodically present round-ups of the ones I consider best.
South America is a continent of sandwiches, some partly inspired by European and American models, though many are not. There’s the wonderful Venezuelan patacón, a breadless assemblage from Maracaibo with the sandwich filling smooshed between two stiff boards of fried green plantain; and the bauru, a Brazilian roast beef sandwich smothered in melted mozzarella. Argentines and Uruguayans have their distinctive lomitos, and please don’t forget the Chilean chacarero. But the subject of today’s column is a sandwich found in the Bolivian capital of La Paz.
The chola, or sanduíche de chola, is named after the indigenous and historically marginalized women of Bolivia, who wear a colonialized costume of bowler hat and colorful woven shawl. The sandwich is a specialty of the street stalls in the La Paz park called Las Cholas, where it is often made with pulled pork, pickled vegetables, assorted roughage, and a yellow hot sauce called aji.
Three competing cholas ($11) are offered at the Bolivian Llama Party near downtown Brooklyn at Gotham Market at the Ashland, a food court. There’s a version that includes three types of pork (shoulder, belly, and bacon), and another that presents similar flavors and textures with vegetarian caramelized jackfruit. But the one I like best features roasted brisket rubbed with spices that include locoto, a tiny pepper native to Bolivia.
The beef turns out crusty, rich, and peppery, and the shredded escabeche carrots add a sweet and sour highlight to the sandwich. Aioli, crumbly cheese, and purple onions round out the flavor profile. Despite its relatively compact size, the brisket chola makes a satisfying meal. 590 Fulton St., between Ashland Place and Hudson Avenue, Fort Greene