Food for Thought: Mussels, Plain And Simple

Aug 9, 2017

"Hey Nance," I asked Ms. Leson.  "Mussels or clams – which wunna dese?" 

"Of dose?" she Philly'd.  "I like 'em both, but it would have to be mussels.  Especially in the summer."

Here's why.

"In the summertime we get those wonderful Mediterranean mussels," Nance says.  They're available year-round, but she thinks they're at their best in the summer. 

These mussels originated in the Med but are now grown locally, hanging from rafts.  

"They're meaty," says Nancy. " The smaller ones are often sweeter but I like the meatiness."  She also pointed out that at roughly the same price per pound as clams, the lighter-shelled mussels offer more moules for your moola.

Sourdough Cheryl DeGroot. Mush Bay, Kodiak 1972. Ms. DeGroot's rabbit fur parka provided courtesy of the Kodiak dump.
Credit A passing bear / KNKX

My wife, the Lovely & Talented Cheryl DeGroot, is a bivalve lover from way back.  She still gets wistful talking about the gigantic mussels she gathered while living remote at Mush Bay on Kodiak.  How big were they?

"This big?"  I held up my thumb. "Just the meat was twice that big," the L&T bragged.  Ahnold should  have such mussels.

Nancy was surprised to learn that many of the students in her cooking class were shy about cooking mussels.  Actually, they're a snap to prepare.  I'd run it down for you here, but Nance explains the whole thing in the audio. 

But just for lagniappe, here's a recipe for the classic moules marinieres from The Guardian's Felicity Cloake.

"Shellfish are the prime cause of the decline of  morals and the adaptation of an extravagant lifestyle."Pliny the Elder