It wasn't necessarily the size that surprised me, it was the depth.
Appearing to be about three inches thick, it was layer upon layer of meat. Meats of various kinds. Sandwiched between bread. Soggy bread. Soaked in sauce. Covered in cheese, or a fried egg, if you so choose.
Now, if you know me at all, you may know that I am completely disgusted by soggy bread, soggy French fries, pre-made refridgerated sandwiches that get soggy, and the like. So you can imagine my reaction when Luis Miguel was describing the sandwich of all sandwiches, the one that was so filling that it could suffice for lunch AND dinner, and he mentioned that the bread on top and bottom was soaked in sauce. It took everything in me not to gag on the spot.
We planned to visit a restaurant at the beach famous for their Francesinhas during our few days of holiday before the real world invited us in. Our time at the beach got interrupted by an unexpected call for a delivery (see "small' post here), so the lunchtime delight was postponed a few days in favor of actually eating them at the beach... thus not having to prepare a picnic dinner, and therefore able to spend more time with our feet in the sand. (Look whose husband is becoming quite a planner!)
As we walked a mile, then sat at the incredibly cramped, bustling restaurant, one would have thought this was the only restaurant at the beach! My stomach growled as the people swarmed and filled every possible space with chairs. When the dish was finally set in front of me, my stomach flipped with anticipation, aghast at the thought of consuming this entire plate of food:
And yes, that plate is for one person. This quantity of fries is only a bit more than your average McDonald's large, but for some reason, when spread out around the entire plate, the quantity seems to double! From the bottom up, the contents are as follows: soggy bread soaked in francesinha sauce, then patties of pork, ham, bacon, beef, and presunto, then soggy bread again, then cheese. There were toothpicks to hold it together and Luis Miguel kindly gave me a quick lesson in toothpick positioning (slightly visible above) in order to execute the eating of such sandwich in proper cultural fashion, which does not include it falling apart. Luis also chose to have his topped with an egg, sunny side up, which was just adding one too many items if you ask me.
The fries were delicious, and the sandwich itself was... well... it was quite an experience! Here she is a few bites in, with me thinking to myself, "Why in the world did I agree to this??"
The sauce was delicious and unique, a tangy barbeque flavor of sorts... and in honor of the Portuguese, I stuffed myself to the brim, but just could not finish any more than this...
... and actually, that's only half of what I left on my plate, because I gave the other half of this portion to Luis Miguel, who refused to finish it as well! I would have been completely content with half of what I started with, and even then I think I would have been full!
It is customary to drink something after your meals in Portugal, something carbonated like Friese, a lemony Sprite-style ginger ale of sorts, which is just the remedy for this type of stuffed belly!
And then maybe a nap on the beach. :)