It had been 30 years since victory in the Battle of Aljubarrota (1385), that had brought Joao I to the Portuguese throne and consolidated independence from the crown of Castile. It was time for an epic achievement that would underwrite his reign, and that territory in North Africa seemed to provide the perfect opportunity. The Portuguese monarch not only wanted to end the Muslim domination of Ceuta but also add it to his domains. And he gave the order: take Ceuta at any cost.
Slightly more than 20,000 men sailed in 200 ships toward the North African city. They were beginning Portugal’s expansion outside the peninsula, and the venture had to be carried out with no expenses spared: the expedition was outfitted with everything necessary. The residents of Oporto were especially generous: they gave the troops almost everything –the very best– from their larders, and contented themselves with the leftovers.
Now lacking some essential ingredients, people in Oporto had to be inventive when preparing their food. The guts of livestock (tripa) would be the basis for their stews, to which they added whatever else might be at hand in the kitchen. This dish became the symbol of the city, to the point where Oporto natives began to be called tripeiros. Six centuries later, cuisine based on animal intestines still delights not only the tripeiros but anyone else wanting to discover the most popular dishes of this city at the mouth of the River Douro.