If Lisboeta and Portuense are the official names of the inhabitants of Lisbon and Porto, it is like alfacinhas and tripeiros that they are known.
But why in Lisbon they are alfacinhas and in Porto tripeiros?
Lettuce is at the origin of ones and tripe at the origin of others and if the reason for being tripeiros is clear, historical and honourable, it seems that the alfacinhas is less clear, although equally historic.
One of the explanations says that the people of Lisbon are alfacinhas because, for many centuries, the hills of Lisbon were filled with this plant that was used for cooking, medicine and also for perfumery. It was the Arabs who cultivated it when they occupied this area of the Iberian Peninsula in the 8th century AD.
The plant had, in Arabic, the name “Al-Hassa” which resulted in the word “Alface (lettuce)”, in Portuguese.
Another theory says that it was the inhabitants of the surrounding areas of Lisbon – whom the people of Lisbon called “saloios” – who “gave back” the nickname to the people of Lisbon, calling them “alfacinhas”, in a kind of exchange.
It’s because? Because the inhabitants of Lisbon, in the 19th century, began to adopt the habit of strolling through the saloia area, with trendy bows that looked more like lettuce around their necks.
There are also those who say that the nickname “alfacinhas” is due to the fact that Lisbon people do not move far beyond their city and therefore look like lettuce, stuck to the ground …
The nickname “tripeiros” has an origin that is not only honourable but also very patriotic and that demonstrates Invicta’s dedication to causes that involved the dignity and independence of Portugal.
In fact, the epithet was born from a great spirit of sacrifice and an enormous firmness of character from the people of Porto.
In the 15th century, King D. João I and Infante D. Henrique secretly organized the taking of Ceuta (1415) and, although they ignored the fate of all the preparations and the reason for the construction of so many vessels, at the Miragaia shipyard, the inhabitants of Porto united unconditionally to help Infante D. Henrique, born in that city and responsible for all those preparations.
And in such a way they endeavoured to help, they made a giant sacrifice!
They supplied the entire fleet with the meat they managed to find, leaving the inhabitants with only the tripe. It is a matter of honor and pride to have the name “tripeiros”.
The rivalries between Tripeiros and Alfacinhas have centuries of history.
The said that “Saints don’t do miracles at home” but matchmaker Santo António has always been well received on the streets of the capital. The northerners, on the other hand, do not exempt themselves from celebrating São João, which for its reputation as a seducer is known as the least reliable among the saints.
When you talk about parties, you talk about fun. And fun is synonymous with going out on the street… “From Ribeira to Foz” – says the song, whoever is from Porto likes to feel the night by the Douro. The “crazy people in Lisbon” turn to the Tagus and sing “I’m fine, fine, this morning in Lisbon”.
The feuds between the north and the south have already been painted, sung, spoken and written … but the biggest one is lived in the field. The true patriotism of today is seen in football and nothing better than watching a game of the eternal rivals Benfica and Porto, to realize that relations have not improved over time.
Regionalist discussions aside, there is a common point between Lisbon and Porto: all discussions end at any corner cafe drinking a beer, asking for a fino in Porto or in Lisbon for an imperial. And if in Porto, to order a coffee, you ask for a “cimbalino”, that in Lisbon sounds like Chinese. I advise you to ask for a “bica”. By the way, the cimbalino also has to do with a brand, Cimbali, of coffee machines. And bica? I’ll tell you in the next story.