Why We Ate a Little French Girl

Francesinha is her name, and she’s all over Porto. She’s famous there, and supposedly the only city in the world where she can be found (don’t tell Porto, but Guimarães had her on offer too).

Why is she so special? Some claim Francesinha to be one of the 10 best sandwiches in the world. Quite simply, though she’s actually complicated and takes many forms, the Francesinha is a meat sandwich smothered in cheese and surrounded by a moat of special sauce, served with a side of fries (AKA chips). It’s the Portuguese version of a croque-monsieur (Or a crocodile monster, as Mike likes to pronounce it), but with more artery-clogging goodness.

For three years, we’ve been pescetarians. This phrase refers to those to cut meat and poultry out of their diet but still consume fish. For the most part, we’re vegetarians who eat fish 1-3 times per week. But since starting out travels, we’ve cheated just a little. If a national cuisine or local delicacy contains meat, we don’t want to miss out. We’re traveling the world with the hope of experiencing new things, not neglecting them. Other than a few cheats (reindeer in Iceland, blood sausage in Finland and kebab in Turkey), we’ve stuck to our diet well. When we had the opportunity to try a little French girl, we took it.

Typically, she’s stacked with ham, steak and cured and fresh sausage. All that fits between two slices of white bread, which might be topped with a sunny-side-up egg and smothered in cheese. Surrounding the sandwich on a large bowl plate is a special sauce that we were told takes a day to make. All is served with fries either in the sauce or on the side. Needless to say, the only way to eat a Francesinha is with a knife and fork. And perhaps the most important element to remember is that you must have a Super Bock with it (Portugal’s favorite beer). Afterward, if you survive, you go into a cholesterol coma but feel like you just won Nathan’s Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest.

Two Little French Girls

Two little French girls with French fries and Super Bocks.

A Francesinha in Porto, Portugal

A francesinha in Porto, Portugal.

A Look Inside a Francesinha

A look inside a francesinha.


4 responses to “Why We Ate a Little French Girl

    • The base was from the cooked meat and we were told that alcohol is added during its making. It was kind of like an au jus but with some additions. Hard to describe I guess.

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