For the fifth year now, the beach town of Praia das Maçãs, in the Colares district of Sintra, has hosted a festival celebrating the locally prevalent mexilhão, or mussel, timed conveniently to coincide with Good Friday and Saturday of Holy Week, Semana Santa. In keeping with the observance of Lent, where fish takes the place of meat on Fridays, locals harvest mussels from the beaches of Sintra at low tide on Friday morning, ostensibly to enjoy later that day. Alas, because it’s prudent to let your mussels filter through clean water for a couple of days, the Clube Recreativo da Praia das Maçãs procures others to enjoy in a special caldo das pimentas along with jarros of Sagres and sweets from the region (such as travesseiros de Sintra and bolas de Berlim).
In 2016, the organizers generously ordered too many mussels for the event; last year, they ordered too few and ran out by early evening on Friday. This year (2018) looks to be spot on, with music and fun carrying on at the tent in the parking lot of the Mercado da Praia das Maçãs til the wee hours. A towering plate of mussels in broth is €5; bread is €,45; sweets are €1,20; and a pitcher of beer or wine is €4. A festive time for the whole community, and it feels like everyone pitches in.