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Plump Steamers and all the trimmings are always part of the
all-you-can-eat Clam Feed, one of the most popular events each year
at the annual Provincetown Portuguese Festival
Its the third week in June, and that means it's time for Provincetown's annual Portuguese Festival, with its music, dancing, a parade on Commercial Street, and of course, plenty of Portuguese food. One of the most anticipated events at this yearly celebration is always the Clam Feed, where volunteers serve up one bushel after another of succulent littlenecks, steamers, quahogs and sea clams, prepared in every way you can think of. The photo above is a plate of steamers I had at last year's festival, served in the traditional way with broth for rinsing, butter for dipping, lemon for squeezing, along with plenty of buttered corn-on-the-cob and fresh bread. The cups behind the plate held a traditional New England style creamy clam chowder and a robust sea clam chili, made with a spicy tomato base.
Elsewhere on the menu were heaping trays of littlenecks on the half-shell, stuffed quahogs (say KO-hogs) which are large hard-shelled clams chopped up into a bread stuffing with garlic, onion, peppers, celery, and a slightly spicy Portuguese sausage called linguica (say leen-gwee-suh) and baked in the oven, usually mounded into the big shells left after the clams are shucked. There will likely also be some version of a cataplana, a sort of stew made with littlenecks, aromatics, and of course, more linguica. Admission for this event is usually around twenty bucks or so, and a real bargain for unlimited helpings of anything and everything served.
The Clam Feed will be held Friday from 5 to 8 PM at the Bas Relief, which is kind of P'Town shorthand for the little neighborhood park on Bradford Street, behind Town Hall, where you'll find a large bas-relief plaque depicting the signing of the Mayflower Compact in 1620. The plaque will be somewhat obstructed but still accessible behind the huge white tent tops set up for the duration of the festival. This enclosure will take up most of this little park, and it will also be the site for tonight's opening party and for the Portuguese Soup Tasting from noon to 3 PM on Friday, as well as the Lion's Club"s Portuguese Food Court on Saturday from 11:30 AM to 7:30 PM. Attend these events as early as you can, because even though they plan to serve the masses, sometimes they run a little low on certain items toward the end.
Get out and enjoy some of the events scheduled for the festival, like the parade on Commercial Street on Saturday at 3 PM, and the 65th Blessing of the Fleet on MacMillan Pier at 1 PM on Sunday. There will be a fishing derby for kids on Friday, puppets and face painting, music, Portuguese dancers in costume performing on the streets, a band concert and all kinds of entertainment through Sunday, and many of these events are free. The Fado Concert is always a highlight of the festival, held this year at Town Hall on Saturday at 7:30 PM.