I Could Have Had a Heart Attack!

It’s the truth, for a few minutes it felt like I might.

Porto was our last stop in Portugal, we didn’t expect to love it as much as we did. The one thing that I knew about Porto besides its reputation for making some of the best port wine around, was that they had a very special treat in store for us. Something of such epic proportions, it was beyond the confines of our imagination.

The Francesinha.

As we rode the bus up the highway heading north, I was reading through my Rough Guide to Portugal, trying desperately to make up for all the time I wasted doing absolutely no research, when I came across it. This famous ‘sandwich’ (as they like to refer to it) is unlike anything you’ve tasted, even in the heart of America’s fast food belt. Made of two thick slices of bread stuffed to the brim with all types of meats and covered in a very special sauce made with two of my favorite ingredients; cheese and beer. If you can’t picture this, it’s a heart attack waiting to happen. You can’t pass it up if you are town!

duoro river porto portugal

Taking my guide book under my arm as if it were a bible, I marked down on the map where we would find the ‘Best Francesinha in town’ at Verso em Pedra and that’s exactly where we went.

There is a little story behind this creation. It is said that French immigrant, Daniel da Silva, was returning to Portugal after some time away and wanted to import a little piece of home. He did his best to adapt the croque-monsieur into something his Portuguese friends would enjoy by adding in local ingredients and inspiration. The name francesinha means “Little Frenchie” in Portuguese but this monster-sized meal is anything but.

Lorenzo and I stupidly misjudged our own abilities, ordering up one traditional francesinha each plus an order of fries (to share) and a carafe of red wine… also to share.

francesinha in porto portugal

Can I say ooffphh on this blog?

Our treats came with a tiny red chili pepper as garnish as a hint to the spice that lies within, which was just enough for me! I did my best to make it through this brick of a meal but it beat me shamefully. Finishing off the last glass of wine I felt a dark cloud come over me.

I couldn’t move.

Lorenzo and I paid our bill and sluggishly climbed the tiny steps to face the Douro River. Across the street we spotted a park bench and made the fastest beeline possible under all that extra weight.

It actually felt like someone had slipped me sleeping pills… and mixed them with alcohol. Lorenzo and I didn’t move from that bench for quite some time as we lazily watched local fisherman along the river. When the cloud finally lifted, I was both amazed and joyful to have lived through such an experience.

francesinha in porto portugal

There are plenty of restaurants around the city which serve up different varieties and each has its very own secret sauce recipe. The one we had was great and I recommend it if you are going for tradition.

If you think you are man enough to conquer the fattest food challenge around Verso em Pedra offers a competition that I assume has yet to be beat. If you can devour a colossal francesinha at a value of €30 you will be the proud father of a brand new food baby Gibson Les Paul guitar. That shiny baby has most likely been sitting on the shelf for years.

I learned a very important lesson that day:

Francesinha first, then move on to the wine.

Verso em Pedra is located at Rua da Arménia 12-14-16 Miragaia, Porto.