The second-largest city in Portugal, Porto is a major tourist destination. Having won the European Best Destination award multiple times, it has managed to win the hearts of visitors with its beautiful sights.
Be it the flowing river Douro as it meanders past the streets, or the breathtaking architecture of many Churches, especially the São Francisco Church, which continues to mesmerize all those who set eyes on it. However, another peculiarity Porto offers isn’t the city’s landmarks, but its people – the Tripeiros.
A city may consist of beautiful buildings and marks of nature, but what makes a city feel homely and inviting is its people. In the case of Porto, its people are called Tripeiros, and when enquired the reason behind being so, a long tale awaits to be told.
It is thought that in the 15th century, in 1415 to be exact, ships of Henry the Navigator were built on the riverbank of the Douro river. The ships were imagined to be used in conquering Ceuta in North Africa, however, the main reason for shipbuilding appears unclear, as it was held secretive at the time. Supplies were needed by the fleet, and thus the people of Porto displayed their hospitality and gave everything to the fleet except for Tripes, which were kept as leftovers for the Porto citizens. Tripes are the muscle walls lining the stomachs of animals. These walls are considered to be edible, having a soft but chewy texture. Though many do not possess the appetite for such an eatable, tripes, especially Pork and Beef tripes are widely eaten.
With tripes left behind, and all else sacrificed for the fleet, it was as if the people of Porto took ‘one for the team’. After the fleet returned victorious from conquering Ceuta, it made way to the Age of Discoveries. This made the remnant tripes a symbol for an iconic moment in history, and a cause of pride for the citizens. Thus granting the name ‘Tripeiro’ to the locals of Porto, meaning tripe-eaters.
The Tripeiros have embraced their name and its importance with open arms. Their history and heritage stays alive through a famous local dish – wait for it – the Tripes. Now known as the Tripas à Moda do Porto (Porto-style Tripes), this local delicacy continues to be a cause of attraction for many tourists. Whilst the story behind the innovative name for Porto citizens continues to invoke the curiosity of visitors.
Porto is not the only city of Portugal with such colorful tales. Lisbon is another, whose people are called Alfacinhas (little lettuces). With quite a few theories behind this peculiar name, some say that during the Muslim occupation of Lisbon, the Muslims brought with themselves the ‘Al Hassa’ – locally called Alface. This was lettuce, which was planted widely across the region, and thus the people of Lisbon would consume abundant quantities of it, especially in tougher times. Thereby giving the people the name Alfacinhas – little lettuces.
Such culturally rich and somewhat funny stories are what generate intrigue amongst tourists, and make a destination, a famous tourist-hub. The story behind the Tripeiros has checked the list for Porto in this regard.