A Francesinha in Porto

On 12th May 2009 we had spent an enjoyable day in Porto in Portugal.  The day had slipped by and time was getting on  and before we returned to the metro we needed to find somewhere to eat.  I had spotted a couple of promising places earlier this morning so we walked back briskly (very briskly actually) down the dangerous road, along the riverside, over the bridge, through the Ribiera and back to the Rua de Flores where we choose a traditional little place with basic rustic furniture and plastic red check table cloths and with no other customers quickly placed our orders.

The girls weren’t taking any chances and choose familiar dishes but Micky and I decided to sample the local speciality of Porto, the Francesinha, which is a sandwich made with toasted bread, wet-cured ham, linguiça, fresh sausage like chipolata, steak or roast meat and covered with molten cheese and a hot thick tomato and beer sauce.

Francesinha means Little French Girl in Portuguese and it is said to be an invention in the 1960s of a man called Daniel da Silva, a returned emigrant from France and Belgium who tried to adapt the croque-monsieur to Portuguese taste.  Francesinha sauce is a secret, with each house having its variation and the kitchen was momentarily thrown into a panic when someone had to frenziedly explain to us that they had run out of their special spicy sauce and would we be alright with an alternative.  We explained that this really didn’t matter to us because we had never had one before and really had no idea what to expect anyway.

This settled things down and we were eventually served the sandwiches and I have to say that I failed to see just what all the fuss was about.

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