There’s a joke about France that Belgian taxi drivers like to tell and that you might like, too. It deals with genesis: God is creating the world. Towards the end of the week he is lacking in concentration for a second, tilting his basket with marvels a bit too far and in a way that the most beautiful landscapes, grand rivers, mountain ranges, spectacular coast lines, fertile earth rain down all in one place – right where France will be.
The other countries, outraged, complain, saying: “Hey, Almighty, that’s really not fair! Why does France get everything and so much more than us?”. God in his wisdom sees that they’re right and that, in fact, it was all his fault. So after some meditation he corrects his error and creates, to balance the beauty of the country, the French people…
Well, the French are much nicer than their image has it. The joke just came to my mind when I prepared some mussels as a starter. Again and again I think about how privileged France as a culinary country is (thanks to God!). The two oceans alone – the Mediterranean to the South, the Atlantic to the West – are an endless source for excellent ingredients like the palourdes you see in the pictures.
These clams or striped Venus mussels are delicious regardless how you use them, steamed, grilled, sautéed, whatever. Those you see here were steamed, then topped with a mix of butter, garlic, parsley, breadcrumbs, salt, then put into the oven for not even a minute under the hot-as-hell grill. Out came what the French call: un vrai régal! A real treat! Works with every kind of mussels (I forgot to take the picture of the crusted mussels…but they were golden brown and perfect!)