Draw a straight line on a map due east from Provincetown and it will pass through an island group known as the Azores then end in Portugal on the western edge of Europe. For hundreds of years, European fisherman would sail thousands of miles across the Atlantic often ending up on the sandy fist of Cape Cod, in Provincetown. Around 1840, when the whaling industry was booming, Portuguese and Azorean immigrants began settling in Provincetown where they developed a tight knit, successful whaling and fishing community.
Provincetown’s Portuguese heritage is felt in many ways, from its food and festivals to a larger-than-life artwork on the waterfront. Monumental black and white portraits of women gaze out from the side of a building at the end of Fisherman’s Wharf. The town’s iconic mural titled “They Also Face the Sea” was installed by artist Ewa Nogiec and photographer Norma Holt in 2003 as a tribute to the women behind the men who made their living on sea, as well as to the community’s Portuguese and fishing heritage. Mother Nature has given the iconic photos quite a beating over the past decade, but in the summer of 2015, brand new reprints of the vinyl images were reinstalled. Our Ladies of the Wharf continue to stand sentinel over the harbor.
A taste of Portugal is also found in the food and Portuguese Festival, held in mid-June. P’town’s landmark Portuguese Bakery resides in a faded gray house at 299 Commercial Street. A peek in the windows gives gawkers a chance to see fresh Azorean and nPortuguese pastries being artfully arranged in cases. Grab a cup of coffee and a signature truta- a crescent shaped sweet potato-filled, fried pastry laced with cinnamon and bourbon. Or go for the more hearty breakfast sandwich with linguiça sausage, egg, and cheese followed by a cream-filled fritter-like malassada.
Another flavorful dish served all over the Cape is Portuguese kale soup, caldo verde. This hearty, yet simple fisherman’s stew contains a generous portion of the healthy greens, spicy linguiça (lin-GWEE-sa) sausage, potatoes, and sometimes kidney beans. Quite often the pork and kale flavor combination is translated into other dishes, often using shellfish. Enjoy Shawnie’s original recipe for Pork & Clams which was inspired by this one beautiful bite of Portuguese Mussels at the Skipper Restaurant in South Yarmouth.