She didn’t like this time of year. It was still dark and cold. Christmas had gone. At least in December you had all of that to look forward to.
She wasn’t even sure she wanted to prepare this particular dish. But it was the next thing on the list and she was a woman of lists. And there would be three quarters of a bottle of wine left for later.
The last time they’d had mussels they’d been the big fat ones from a different continent. They’d been ugly and rubbery and a bit too - well - mussel. She actually preferred the smaller, sweeter European ones – the ones they pickled and served with chips.
These were the smaller ones in fact, though the pint weighed heavy, she realised as she scrubbed off barnacles, pulled off beards and discarded just two that had already opened.
Next she chopped onions. The recipe actually said shallots but at least the onions were shallot shaped. She supplemented them with spring onions and garlic. The butter melted in the cast-iron pan and soon the vegetables were softening in the sizzling yellow liquid. Next in went the mussels. Already the shells began to open, exposing soft pinky orange flesh.
In went the wine – a quarter of bottle – , a good amount of freshly chopped parsley and a small bay leaf. On went the lid, and few minutes later, once the lid was too hot to touch, down went the heat. The part-baked baguette warmed in the oven.
The kitchen filled with the pleasantest of cooking smells.
A few moments later it was ready.
With the first mouthful the winter gloom lifted. “This combination of tastes is so right,” she said.
“You wonder how they found out, don’t you? This couldn’t have happened by accident.”
One mouthful at a time winter despair was banished. A watery sun even peeped out between the grey clouds. This dish should certainly stay on the list.