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Porto is recognized as a city that loves food. Indeed, this passion persists because the people of Porto have always prized the dishes of their origins, and can see themselves in them. Tripas à moda do Porto are a perfect example of this, where one single dish can baptize an entire population as “tripeiros“, symbolically immortalizing the history and resilience of these people.
THE ORIGIN OF TRIPAS À MODA DO PORTO
As far as the origin of tripas à moda do Porto goes, little is known besides legends, which are disperse and independent among themselves, and where the dish almost always arises as a sudden adaptation to a food crisis.
With the fall of the Roman Empire, the Suebi started to expand through Europe. When they finally conquered the Northern Iberian Peninsula, they made Porto one of their capitals. The Suebi had tripe in their gastronomical traditions, and coincidentally or not, they seem to have left tripe as a gastronomical remnant through the regions they conquered. According to this point of view, the basis for tripas à moda do Porto may have appeared in the 6th century.
CONQUEST OF CEUTA
During the 15th century, whilst sending Portuguese troops to conquer Ceuta, King John I guaranteed part of the provisioning of food for his troops by asking Porto for supplies. With this gift, the city was void of its usual food stock and was left with only tripe and imagination.
SIEGE OF PORTO
The confrontation between the royalists of D. Miguel and the liberals of D. Pedro IV lead the first to organize a siege to the city of Porto, heart of the liberal movement. The siege lasted approximately a year, and lead the city to the limit in food stocks; thus, tripe came as a solution in a time of need.
SIEGE OF LISBON
At arms with a succession crisis in 1384, Lisbon is sieged by Castilian troops. In efforts to aid the capital, captain Rui Pereira commands an armada coming from Porto, that manages to break the blockage at the river and deliver food to the starving people and troops of Lisbon. This heroic act allowed the troops of the Master of Avis to support the infamous siege, which lasted a few more months. Once again, the people of Porto sent out all their meat and were left with tripe.
EPISODES OF THE HISTORY (AND LEGENDS) OF TRIPE
WHAT ARE TRIPAS À MODA DO PORTO?
Considering the ruminant nature of bovine livestock, these animals possess a series of adaptations regarding their digestive system, so that they can efficiently digest grass. Part of the essence of tripas à moda do Porto resides in this complex gastric system, as the stomach of cows is compartmented into four sections: the rumen, the reticulum, the omasum and the abomasum. Unlike what the term “tripe” suggests, the dish is cooked using parts of the stomach, and not intestine.
Those who seek for a recipe for tripas à moda do Porto can often find the terms blanket tripe, honeycomb tripe and book tripe, which refer to the rumen, reticulum and omasum. Not to mention the famed “dobrada“, which is, in essence, the assortment of stomach linings, excluding the abomasum. You can see the different sections of tripe below.
Beyond tripe, the recipes vary, but usually include veal’s feet, pig’s feet, chicken, salpicão, ham, chouriço, butter beans, carrot, lard, bay leaf, garlic, cumin, clove, paprika, onion, olive oil, salt and pepper. It is a complex dish, filled with ingredients that demand the highest quality, but the confection also comes with its tricks and secrets. The final result is surprising, and transcends expectations, and above all, brings comfort and warms the heart.
WHERE CAN I EAT THEM?
Porto is the birthplace of this delicacy, and it is in Porto that you will find the most faithful and delicious versions of this dish. For those who have not tried it, this is a warm dish, with a hearty sauce, and such a diversity of meats that fulfill a variety of textures and flavours, all this complemented by the sweetness of the butter beans and carrot. This is what you can expect of tripas à moda do Porto. Choose from recommended spots, and be aware if the dish is on the day’s specials. Here are a few suggestions.