Citizens, virtually everyone knows of New England Clam Chowder and Manhattan Clam Chowder. A select and discerning few know of the Rhode Island variant but practically no one knows about the *4th* historic clam chowder type – a super-rare, hyper-local version from St. Augustine, Florida created by Minorcan migrants seeking a better life!
This Minorcan Clam chowder at first glance looks like the Manhattan version, as it is also tomato-based.
All similarities cease once you taste it, however! It not only carries a strong herbal flavor totally lacking in Manhattan, but also a substantive amount of spice from the incredibly rare Datil pepper, grown only around St. Augustine and in Northeastern Florida, which is an integral part of the recipe!
Habaneros are close in flavor profile – and in a pinch you COULD use them in place of Datils. I instead encourage you to gird your culinary loins and grow your own Datil plants!
Raymond Powers is a local St. Augustine gardener who will happily sell you some of his heirloom Datil pepper seeds – contact him via this link or use Datil pepper-based hot sauce for a true authentic flavor. You can easily purchase Datil hot sauce from Amazon here.
…and just to show you how seriously TFD takes this, see below! 😀
Minorcan clam chowder is indeed one of St. Augustine’s signature dishes. St. Augustine natives insist there is no substitute for the datil’s sweet-tart, citrusy hot taste – and they’re right.
Centuries ago, settlers from Minorca, an island near the coast of Spain, were brought to Florida during the 1500’s. They worked as indentured servants on Florida’s indigo plantations. It’s thought they picked up the ancestor of the Datil pepper during a stopover in Cuba.
Once on Florida’s shores, the Minorcan migrants created this fantastic chowder by blending their Mediterranean cooking methods with local seafood, herbs and produce and that amazing little pepper.
My version – of course – brooks no tolerance for nothing less than the ultimate in authenticity! Citizens, you will love this Minorcan-American recipe, of this I am certain! How can you not enjoy this, given all the savory and spicy delciousness of this recipe?! I would suggest serving this with another North Florida favorite – sour orange pie!
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