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  • Writer's pictureChristopher Booth

The Porto Parmo

I never imagined that Porto would remind me of Middlesbrough, but after spending two days in the city staring at an iconic bridge and eating a heart attack-inducing sandwich, there are clearly similarities.

The city sits on the Douro River in northern Portugal and is synonymous with the fortified wine that shares its name. Its ancient streets and neighbourhoods have been revamped and refurbed since 2001, when it was named European City of Culture - not least the beautiful quayside - now occupied by eateries and shops.

And it’s here that stands the Dom Luis 1 bridge - an impressive two-storey steel structure that links the city’s steep, cobbled streets with the once separate town of Villa Nova de Gaia.

The local delicacy that I refer to is the Francesinha (or little French girl). This gut-busting sandwich was introduced to the country by a returning French/Belgian emigrant as an adapted version of the French croque-monsieur. It’s stuffed with cured ham, sausage and steak, covered with melted cheese and served in a thick spiced tomato and beer sauce. If that wasn’t enough it’s accompanied by chips, and more beer.

It was tasty, but if I had to choose, the parmo would have my vote - not least because the high class setting of the Majestic Cafe where I sampled this local delicacy charged 29 Euros for the privilege - and that doesn’t sit easy with a Yorkshireman who knows he can buy at least five parmos with that kind of money!

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