I Could Have Died!

1 07 2010

Yesterday I was strolling through Whole Foods on the way home. I decided to go for a stroll around the store. I made my way to the seafood department and found myself questioning a plastic container of mussels. The meat had already been shelled and the container had what looked like this:

They looked tasty so I bought the container, wondering what I would eat them with for dinner. When I got home, I popped one in my mouth. It tasted fishy and slimy and reminded me of oysters. I called up my mom, to ask her how she would prepare the seafood. I told her that I had already eaten a mussel to which she told me that I could die. She explained to me that seafood, especially “bottom feeders” like mussels should not be eaten raw because they could kill (poison?) you and that it is very dangerous to eat any seafood raw. I got really nervous but argued that people eat raw oysters all the time (I have. I love them) but my mom insisted that that too, wasn’t always ideal and that I should make sure seafood is cooked before I eat it.

I looked at the package, which only said they were “Fresh” Mussels. Fresh? That didn’t help me here. I quickly investigated mussel preparation online. Apparently everyone always prepares mussels in their shell. That’s just how it’s done. So I was worried that maybe Whole Foods messed up in selling already shelled mussels. I searched around the internet some more. It seemed that once the mussels were out of the shell and in an air-tight container that meant that they were no longer alive. And to me, alive meant bad. So maybe I would survive the night.

To make sure, I decided to cook the rest of the container of them. I have never cooked mussels though. Most of the recipes online called for wine as an ingredient but I didn’t have any. I decided to concoct my own recipe. True, I had never cooked or prepared mussels before, and had no idea what I was doing and didn’t have a recipe, but I went for it anyways.

I got a pan out and heated up a good amount of butter. I added the mussels and stirred them around with the butter. Butter with anything usually seems promising, but I didn’t think it would be enough. In my limited cooking experience, I have learned that most things cook well with some sort of liquid, so I added some extra virgin olive oil (EVOO to the losers out there) and maybe too much lemon juice. I covered the pan for some time. (I would have looked at a clock or timer, but the renegade in me decided to just “go with the flow.”) After a few minutes I decided to add some spices, because I love cooking with spices. I added some pepper. I also added a pinch of Old Bay because I love Old Bay and being the true Marylander I am, I figured it really could go well on everything. (Bad call.) And I cooked the mussels some more. Once they looked a little browned, I took them off the heat. I added them to some linguini I had made and topped it all with parmesan cheese.

I ate my new creation while watching, “Top Chef” ironically enough. I am no Top Chef. The mussels were way too salty, but I did manage to eat most of them. When I later recalled my story to a friend, it was decided that maybe I had over-cooked the mussels. (Mussels are not supposed to be browned apparently?) You know, that’s fine. I would much rather eat seafood that has been over-cooked than under-cooked or raw. No more raw seafood scares for me, thank you very much! And, I never got a stomach ache or anything, and I haven’t died yet, so that was really the best part of my night.

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One response

8 07 2010
Mary

Mussel shells only open when they’re cooked and ok to eat, so for Whole Foods to have removed them from the shell they would have had to have been steamed. Oysters can be eaten raw, but I’m reasonably certain mussels shouldn’t be. I got mussels from a “Raw Bar” on the 4th and they were definitely steamed.

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