Sunday, March 8, 2015

the badalhoca

Pedro was hell-bent on finding a specific little sandwich joint on our way out of Porto, and I certainly wasn't about to get in the way of this— especially when he mentioned that the ceiling was lost above a forest of hanging legs of ham. But it was the name that excited me most: Tasca da Badalhoca, which roughly translates to "Tavern of the Dirty Lady". Who was this Badalhoca? Would she be there? Would she serve her sandwiches with a salty comment and a sneer? That was a lot of alliteration.

As we stepped into the tight, dark entrance of the tasca, a greasy ham leg smacked Pedro on the head— he wasn't exaggerating about the ceiling. We walked up to a counter crammed with all manner of pork, and I suddenly became aware of the fact that the only other female in the joint was the Badalhoca herself, who was busy at work stirring a pot of something which smelled of pepper and garlic. Burly men on their lunch breaks hunched over plates piled with sandwiches, and swigged what appeared to be fizzy rosé from glass mugs.  

"I want that", I whispered in Pedro's ear.

We started with an innocent presunto sandwich and a couple of pasteis de bacalhau, but inevitably descended into the piglet and blood sausage. There was an egg involved too, but my goodness, that blood sausage...

Sure, we were guilty of a touch of gluttony and received a snickering from the Badalhoca as we kept popping back up to the counter, but she understood. She knows. These are the best damn sandwiches I have ever had. I told her so, and got a great smile.

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