lundi 24 mai 2010

Moules Frites

Ask most Americans what French cuisine is and you’ll probably get the following responses:

Cheese, wine, and bread
Frog legs
Saucey dishes in expensive restaurants

Apart from going to France, all we can know about French cuisine what is exported to the US, and unfortunately most of the cuisine exported from France to the rest of the world is gastronomic cuisine that is, like in the US, confined to restaurants where you have to have a reservation (i.e. restaurants that I don’t go to). The homey French cooking, the food of the working classes, the recipes that are passed down from grandmother to mother, the cheap and easy recipes—are sadly skipped over.

Moules frites, or “mussels and fries” is one of those dishes. It’s a rather working class meal (think sloppy joes), and eaten happily by French kiddies at school cafeterias. The mussels come in a bowl of sauce of your preference, the classic one being Moules marinières, which doesn’t mean marinara sauce but refers to sailors. Apparently French sailors ate mussels with a white wine, garlic, and shallot sauce. Classy. Fries are the mussels’ steadfast companion, served on the side.

Moules frites is a sans-silverware eating experience, a tremendous advantage. Use the empty shells like pincers to pick out the mussels and spoon up the broth-like sauce. Don’t neglect the sauce by all means—dip your fries in, sop it up with bread, eat it like soup, whatever, but don’t send it back with your dirty napkin floating on top, please.

Moules Marinières

3 pounds of fresh mussels, scrubbed as well as you can and beards removed
1/2 bottle of dry white wine
3-4 shallots, finely minced
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
1/2 cup parsley

1. Put the wine, garlic and shallots in a deep pot and bring to a boil. Let boil for a couple of minutes to cook the shallots and garlic and then add thoroughly washed mussels. Discard any open or broken mussels, as this means they are already dead.
2. Cover the pot tightly and cook for about ten or fifteen minutes. When the mussels open cut the heat but leave the lid on the pot for a few minutes more.
3. Put the mussels in serving bowls. Pour on the sauce and add a handful of parsley. Serve with bread and fresh homemade fries.

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