We’re very lucky to have a shell fish producer’s van from Bouzigues that visits the village on Thursday afternoons and Saturday mornings to sell oysters, clams escargots de mer (a sort of whelk) and mussels.
The mussels we buy are reared in the salt-water lagoon which has carefully protected water so that the shell fish does not have to be kept in purification tanks, as they do in other areas, before being eaten.
Mussel and oyster beds in the Etang de Thau, near Bouzigues, with Sète in the distance on the other side of the water
We always say that our favourite recipe for mussels is whichever one we’re eating at the moment, and today’s was very good:
We cooked the mussels in a little white wine until they had all opened then discarded the half of each shell that was empty. We mixed breadcrumbs with chopped garlic and a whole finely chopped piment d’Espelette (you could substitute dried paprika, and I often use thyme instead of pepper) and covered the mussels in their shells with the mixture, added a little olive oil and a spoonful of finely grated hard cheese to each one and put them under the grill to brown. Simple! We buy the ‘moyenne’ (medium) rather than the larger ‘pour farcir’ (for stuffing) mussels, especially in summer when even the medium ones are nice and fat and very tasty. A kilo will serve two as a main course or 4 to 5 as a first course, with a slice of lemon to squeeze over them.