Exploded Mussels

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Exploded Mussels

Postby Bill Spohn » Sun May 05, 2013 2:04 pm

This is a combination of a book review and recipe.

The author is John Baxter, an Aussie transplanted to France, and the author of other books you may have come across like The Most Beautiful Walk in the World, as well as biographies of various people like Bunuel, Fellini, and Woody Allen. His personal page is at http://www.johnbaxterparis.com/

His recent book called The Perfect Meal was published last year and the premise is the author pondering a hundred year old menu of repasts past and then being inspired to chae down ingredients for a reprise of that sort of traditional meal. It should appeal to cooks as well as those attracted to the usual travel guides. I commend it to you if you are either - see:
http://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Meal-Sear ... ohn+baxter

There was one chapter that resonated with me. It dealt with mussels, which I enjoy (moules et frites in Belgium with fresh mayo are a fond memory), and of all the dozens of ways they are prepared in Europe, perhaps the most dangerous and idiosyncratic method I have heard of, the 'éclate'.

An éclate of mussels is a rustic method practiced by fishermen in the Charentais. Its virtues include minimal accoutrements, and it's dangers will be obvious. I rather think that Jenise might want to consider this some time as she has beach at her place and probably has a source of the few necessary ingredients.

You need a platform on which to stage the 'explosion' of mussels - anything from a bare patch of beach sand to a chunk of plywood (the author rather unsuitably chose an old ping pong table). You arrange all the mussels (you need a big basket fo them) on the platform - the details of exactly how are contained in the book, and then cover them with dry pine needles gathered in the Autumn to more than a foot deep, so that you have what appears to be a miniature hay stack covering the mussels. Light one side and jump back.

The concept is that the needles will burn very fast indeed, and they will leave a dry ash that blows away, and a heap of mussels that have been opened and cooked by the brief but intense heat, and slightly flavoured by the pine. The plan didn't work out quite as anticipated by the author, but the concept seems sound and I leave it to someone with beach access and a ready supply of pine forest to test the technique out (I'd suggest they NOT do it on a table top) and report back. Jenise, we await your recipe for 'Bocce Mussels'
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Re: Exploded Mussels

Postby Jenise » Sun May 05, 2013 2:18 pm

Funny, I just came in from enjoying coffee out on the patio, and watching seagulls grab clams out of the shallows, fly them up to a certain elevation and then drop them to explode them. This works, however it takes a calculating little bird brain to estimate just how high he can fly the clam and then get to it before another gull thieves his work. Watching them is wholly entertaining. And probably only slightly more work than the method you outline here. I will, of course, try almost anything once, but it would be a lot of work for just myself. That is, the Bobster is allergic to bi-valves and could not participate. I suggest you come on down and we make a party of this.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Exploded Mussels

Postby Bill Spohn » Sun May 05, 2013 2:50 pm

Jenise wrote: I suggest you come on down and we make a party of this.


Sounds like w wonderful Fall idea!

I can lend the book to you if you like (can bring it to the Burgfest on Thursday....)
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