I can’t remember the first time I ate mussels but I remember that I was pretty young. My mum liked cooking seafood, because she thinks it’s posh and the recipes are fairly simple. My grandma’s favourite food was always scallops and my dad had a penchant for prawns. My mum devoured oysters and I was destined to be the “mussels eater” of my family, although I really prefer crab.
My family went on a lot of holidays when I was younger. We’d go up to the Yorkshire Dales to visit my grandma, or go back to Vietnam to visit my other grandma (and rest of the vietnamese clan!) and sometimes we’d take weekend trips to Bridlington which is by the seaside.
I never really liked the seaside as a place. I disliked how sand got everywhere, and I disliked how it was always cold and you couldn’t really swim in the sea. I did like building sandcastles though, and when my little sister was still only a baby/toddler I would build really big constructs and put her in the middle, building up towers around her and a moat and everything. My little sister enjoyed bringing them down.
So I remember one time, when I was about 9 years old, my family had once again gone to Bridlington for the weekend. We stayed at this B&B which had light blue walls and a jolly keeper who looked like a sailor with a white beard. This B&B not only served breakfast, but also lunch and dinner as it had a little cafe attached to it on the ground floor.
We decided to go there for lunch. My dad ordered some scampi and chips, my mum ordered a haddock and chips and I was about to order some fish fingers and chips. It was just before i could ask for this that my mum pipped up “It sure is a shame you don’t have mussels on the menu! Our little hattie loves mussels!” At this the B&B keeper looks really surprised at me.
“You like mussels little lady?” He asks.
“Yes Sir. I like them in tomato sauce. But I like them in white wine sauce too” I reply, trying to remember how one actually eats mussels.
“White wine sauce?! A little girl like you?” He exclaims.
By this time, little me is getting pretty bored. I go ahead and ask for my fish fingers, and when I get them I’m secretly really happy they don’t have mussels, because mussels are really hard to eat and always make your fingers messy. We go about our day and my mum enjoys retelling the story of how surprised the B&B keeper was that I liked mussels.
We get back later, after a day of donkey rides and sand castles and claw machines. The B&B keeper comes over to use as we get back in and has this really big smile on his face. He proceeds to tell us that after hearing about the little girl that likes to eat mussels, he went ahead and went to the market to buy some for dinner. He then invites us to dinner, really happy that I got to get my mussels.
I’m not sure if you’ve guys have guessed by now, but I’m wasn’t really a big fan of mussels. I liked them, sure, but I preferred fish fingers. That night, we went to dinner and I was watched proudly by my mum, the B&B keeper and about 5 other guests who had all heard about the little girl who liked mussels in white wine. I diligently ate everything and even soaked up the sauce with some bread. In my head, everyone cheered when I finished, but I’m sure it was actually much less spectacular.
The upside to the story is now, as an adult (ish) I really do enjoy mussels, and often order if when I get the chance. Sadly my heart lies in all things Tartar and I often end up ordering Tuna Tartar which these always seem to be on the menu when mussels are on the menu. The upside for little kid me is that I got to eat a knickerbocker glory for dessert.