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Alfacinha dos Caracóis

Laboratório d'Estórias


Alfacinha dos Caracóis Lettuce Leaf with Snail
Using the traditional manual rubber application technique, this traditional lettuce leaf was especially designed for serving escargot or other tidbits in a dish that alludes to the city of Lisbon itself.
Glazed and painted manually in two tones of green, it is adorned with a snail and two indispensable sticks of the Portuguese Campeões brand.
The piece can be cleaned in the dishwasher and is microwavable.
Package: The box is made of micro-channeled cardboard and wrapped in a paper strip containing an exclusive illustration created with an illustrator of the Caldas da Rainha and the summary of the story “Alfacinha dos Caracóis (the Snails’ Lettuce Leaf),” describing the origin of the name given to residents of Lisbon, translated into Portuguese and English.

16.80 €


Telling the story of a different Portugal.
This was the spirit that, in June of 2013, created the Laboratório d’Estórias (The Story Lab): an experimental design space that takes inspiration from stories of Portuguese popular culture to reinvent traditional objects, using them to tell new stories and to recreate the country’s history.
The ALFACINHAS DOS CARACOIS (Snails’ lettuce leaf)
No one knows who first had the idea of calling people from Lisbon “alfacinhas.”
Well, practically no one.
There was a little girl with snail-shaped dark brown curls who knew.
Although she was an orphan, her great-great-great-great grandfather was one of the few Moors to settle here after Afonso Henriques conquered Portugal.
Perhaps that is why she had an unusual name: Al-Hassa.
Since “Al-Hassa” was not an easy name to pronounce, everyone simply called her “Alfacinha.” Maybe this is why, or perhaps because she was so small and appeared so fragile – although she wasn’t! – this name made sense. Or maybe, who knows, it was because she was as fresh as a lettuce leaf; or because destiny led her to earn her daily bread by selling lettuce.
On cold days and hot days, every day she went up and down the Calçada Carriche, filling the streets with her call, “Alfacinhas! Olha as Alfacinhas! (Lettuce - lettuce leaves).” But it was in vain.
Day after day, returning empty-handed and with a full cart, the little girl had no choice but to eat the lettuce herself in order to survive. One day, a plague of snails attacked Lisbon, eating all the vegetables in the city.
Seeing the hunger of the population – and knowing well how this felt – the little girl came up with a plan: she sewed lettuce leaves, one by one, into an enormous web, stretching from one side to the other of the city.
During the night, all the snails devoured the leaves, and became caught in the web.
The next day – a miracle! – the snails were all cooked in a huge pot, with a pinch of salt and a sprig of oregano, in a feast that everyone would remember.
Thus began the story of Alfacinha dos Caracois – whether because of the little girl’s snail-like curls or the feast that she served, no one knows.
It is known however, that lettuces were planted on the city’s seven hills in her honor, lending the citizens of Lisbon, over the passing of the years, some of the “Alfacinhas” popularized by Almeida Garrett in the famous book “Viagens na Minha Terra -Travels in My Land.” This is why it is said that escargot taste much better when they are served on a lettuce leaf.

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