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Welcome to delicious Destinations, a GourmetStation blog. Through the charater of T.Alexander and occasional real-life guests, our aim is to share with you light-hearted fun ideas about food, gift giving, entertaining and culture. At the same time we would love you hear from you. Please share your experiences from home or abroad.

Seaside Treats From France


Posted: June 16, 2008
by: Chris Card Fuller

Tasting the local seafood can be one of the greatest pleasures of a
seaside vacation in France.  When Parisians rent efficiency apartments
for August, they normally prepare most meals at their apartments.  However,
one restaurant splurge usually finds its way into the vacation budget,
and more than likely that will include a plate of mussels and fries, known
here as ‘moules-frites.’

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Before I au paired in France, the only mussels I had tasted were the
huge New Zealand variety.  French mussels are much smaller (especially the
farmed mussels) – and almost sweet.  Because they are smaller they also
tend to be much less chewy.  So, what I’m saying is, if you didn’t like
mussels back in the US, try these out – at least once.

Even though ‘moules-frites’ is often offered as a starter, don’t be
fooled.  The servings are huge.  You get a huge bowl and normally a
bucket
to discard the shells.  Some restaurants like the one we chose in
Courseulles, Normandie offered ‘all you can eat’ mussels.

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As with all popular dishes, people develop their own strategies for
enjoying this dish.  The purists will order ‘moules marinieres’.  In
this case, mussels are boiled with a dash of white wine and shallots.  Or you
can try the ‘moules a la crème’ which is a standard choice at most
Norman seaside resorts.  Our restaurant had several other options including
curry flavored mussels and Roquefort mussels. The method remains the same.
You receive a steaming bowl of mussels with plenty of  marinade.  You
can either go straight to the attack, devouring one mussel after another
or – fastidiously extract all your mussels from their shells and make
yourself a soup of sorts.  If you do this, you might want to go for the ‘moules a
la crème’.

As for all those etiquette lessons about not dunking your bread in the
sauce – well you can leave this chapter of the book in your suitcase.  I
learned that the best way to eat mussels is by emptying one of the
shells. Turn the empty shell into your utensil and squeeze it like a pair of
tweezers to extract the rest of the mussels in record time.

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I think one of the reasons French people love this dish is partly
because it’s tactile.  This is a dish you can climb into with both hands.
Normally a towelette is served alongside.  On the Atlantic coast,
another great dish is ‘mouclade’.  This is a gratin of mussels.  The mussels are
shelled and served piping hot in a gratinee.  You can use your fork for
this, but it won’t be as much fun as ‘moules-frites’.
Apart from being delicious and filling,  ‘moules-frites’ is often one of
the most reasonably priced resort meals you’ll find in France.

Chris Card Fuller

www.parislogue.com


Your Comments

Your blog just recreated for me my memories of all the plates of 'mouiles-frites' I have eaten at my favorite resort in the South of France-Beaulieu Sur Le Mer.
We enjoy our mussels in Italy with tomato sauce and pasta. But with fries or pasta- the second most important ingredient is the ambiance you are surrounded by- a seaside resort in Italy or France provides a feast for the eyes as you enjoy your mussels-a feast for the palate

Posted by: Maria Liberati at Jun 19, 2008 10:39:21 PM

Your blog just recreated for me my memories of all the plates of 'mouiles-frites' I have eaten at my favorite resort in the South of France-Beaulieu Sur Le Mer.
We enjoy our mussels in Italy with tomato sauce and pasta. But with fries or pasta- the second most important ingredient is the ambiance you are surrounded by- a seaside resort in Italy or France provides a feast for the eyes as you enjoy your mussels-a feast for the palate

Posted by: Maria Liberati at Jun 19, 2008 10:39:45 PM

What a wonderful way to earn a living in France. The old saying "work to live not live to work" is one step on the way to a healthy lifestyle. Better still is finding a job that you actually love doing and getting a happy balance between work and leisure. I would be very tempted to go to try the recipe in its place i like a recipe which i made up which is simply a can of plum tomatoes blended with a couple of pieces of garlic and some tomato puree to thicken it up. Simply Gorgeous. Cheers David.

Posted by: David Jobs Bournemouth Agency at Jul 15, 2008 10:23:59 AM