Mussels ‘marinières’ and a Christmas present from Java



Java and I were out on a little jaunt this weekend when Java found a dead wood pigeon. To be honest, I’m surprised she even saw it because I don’t think that her eyesight is quite what it might be; she often mistakes objects and also does this funny cross-eyed thing. Being a perfect gentledog, I offered to carry it home for her, but she was quite stubborn in her desire to hang on to it, even though she had to stop every few metres because it was almost as big as her. When we finally got back home, which took a while because Java has neither my staying power nor my common sense when it comes to carrying things, Bossy took one look and shrieked. What is with Bossy and her shrill screams when we give her presents? And no, there won’t be a recipe for wood pigeon to follow because Bossy and her delicate constitution insisted that we give it to the neighbour, saying she wanted nothing to do with plucking pigeons. As for Java, she was spitting out feathers all evening in a most unladylike way. I think next time she’ll let me take care of the transport.


I don’t like mussels much, except obviously my own masculine dog ones. Java seems quite keen to chew the shells though – maybe she’s teething.

Mussels are surprisingly good for you. Not only are they a high quality complete protein, they are also a rich source of vitamin B12, manganese, iron, iodine and vitamin C.

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 kg fresh mussels

30g butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 shallots, finely chopped

2 cloves of  garlic, crushed

4 sprigs fresh thyme

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

150ml dry white wine (Muscadet is excellent)

Wash the mussels in cold running water making sure to remove any grit or sand. Discard any that float or any that are already open. Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan over a low heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for a few minutes until softened. Add the mussels and coat well with the melted butter, oil and shallots. Add the herbs and seasoning and then the wine. Bring to a simmer and cook for about five minutes until the mussels have opened. Eat immediately, preferably with French fries cooked in duck fat.

13 responses to “Mussels ‘marinières’ and a Christmas present from Java

  1. As always, your wonderful story made me laugh. However, as I really do not like moules at all, much to the amused disbelief of every French person I meet, I shall not be following this recipe! Hope you have a wonderful New Year’s Eve and a very happy and healthy 2016.

  2. Haha! Your story is so funny. I adore mussels, but then I live in “moules-frites-Land”, so I it would be hard to survive and have a social life if I didn’t. They are served at the huge “Braderie” in Lille on every first weekend of September, and I spent three years preparing moules marinières and fries at a friend’s bar for the occasion, and still haven’t grown tired of them. I love this simple way of preparing mussels. Happy New Year to you and your family!

  3. Hugo, when will Java learn that you are top dog and she is simply not as capable. We must give her props for managing to carry that big bird all the way home. I have to admit though I would also be a bit of a shrieker if handed a dead bird or any sort of animal so I am sympathetic to Bossy.
    The Moules are delicious, one of my favorites with pommes frites. Happy New Year to all have a wonderful celebration and wishing you the best in 2016,

    • As usual Mrs Pug, you are the voice of reason. Perhaps you could explain my status to Java? I’m still perplexed about the shrieking though. I assume you don’t scream when other people give you presents… Despite my superior gift of insight, I don’t think I’ll ever completely understand humans, particularly girl humans. We all wish you a very Happy New Year. Hugo xx

  4. Well I have no problem loving this recipe – we adore moules in all ways. But the idea of duck fat frites sounds like a wonderful elevation. Gorgeous image – so inviting. Best wishes to you and yours for a healthy, accident-free and happy 2016 🙂

  5. Happy New Year Hugo – and please send my best regards to Bossy. Haven’t read your stories nearly enough in 2015 and always enjoy them when I do – especially when accompanied by such a delicious recipe. Here’s to reading more in 2016.

  6. Happy New Year to you! This recipe sounds so good ♥

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