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Mussels In Clear Broth As A Treat For My Son

Since the kids are still on Spring Break I’m doing the unthinkable. I’m taking my children with me to the grocery store. It’s not unthinkable because they are ill mannered, it’s unthinkable because they are my children, with my tastes.

I have a daughter who will stand next to me in her nightgown dipping a spoon into a small jar of golden caviar, her eyes light up as they pop in her mouth. I have a son who knows that grass fed organic beef is the only sort worth eating, and that buffalo hot dogs have a flavor that cannot be rivaled by the packaged goo in the refrigerated section. Both of my kids like apples, both of my children love mangoes.

Taking my children to the grocery store is, quite simply, unaffordable.

In between guitar and drum lessons we have an hour. During the school year, we three would have quiet time and the kids would be working on homework, but with this being spring break I took them to Gelsons.

As is my habit, we went first to the meat and fish department to see what was fresh. Both kids wanted seafood, but Alexander really wanted mussels. I know that my husband won’t be eating mussels any time soon, so when Jane asked if I could make her salmon I said okay. Most days I make one dinner, there is always a protein, two vegetables and a starch. My thoughts are that if they don’t like one of the four things on the plate, no one will starve.

Thank goodness today was different.

I brought the groceries home and immediately soaked the mussels in icy water so that I could scrub and prepare them for supper.  Alexander was standing next to me as I showed him each shell and pointed out the beard. As each shell opened up he would say to me, “that’s okay Mom there are more.” He was so excited to get mussels for supper. Out of two pounds of mussels only five stayed shut. I had approximately two and three quarters of a pound of rotten shellfish, and just 35 minutes to break the news to my son and prepare dinner.

Trying to explain to an eight year old boy that I didn’t want to mince garlic, dice an onion and reduce white wine in order to prepare five mussels was a bit rough. Peanut M&Ms helped keep it in perspective.

Luckily I’d bought salmon for Jane and Mr. G. Alexander and I had a great dinner of reheated chicken.

At nine o’clock I realized we had a problem. Today was an 85 degree day and I had two pounds of rancid seafood. It was also trash day. That means that the mussels would have to sit in the bin for six days in the heat. Ever since an unfortunate lobster incident, I only cook shellfish the day before trash day.

At 9:30 PM I surpassed my mother, and became my grandmother. I collected the mussels, the beards and the babies stuck to them. I put it all in a plastic bag, and then put the plastic bag into a bowl. I got in my car and returned the whole mess to Gelsons.

Yes, I realize that only old ladies return food to the market. It wasn’t about the money. Mussels are about $4 a pound, so it was a $7 investment. It was about the maggots. The maggots that I was unwilling to live with, the cleaning I didn’t want to do. I took my daughter with me to the grocery store, just before it closed, and handed a bag of rancid meat to the store manger.

I’m not sure what my daughter’s takeaway will be. Hopefully she’ll know that Mommy enjoys a clean house so much that she’s unwilling to have a manky trash bin.

6 thoughts on “Mussels In Clear Broth As A Treat For My Son”

  1. Way back when, I was cooking for my (now) x-boyfriend and opened a can of green beans with a dead roach in it. Had I known what I know now, I would have fed it to him anyways.

  2. A couple of years ago while working in a restaurant I made and sold a salad. Within moments the server was returning the salad to me and pointed out one particular leaf in the spring mix. I’d overlooked a piece that was beyond wilted and was gooey and black and obviously inedible. I was so ashamed at that moment especially as I looked up and saw the customer staring straight at me through the pass (the window through which the cooks send the food to the server.)

    If I were an employee in Gelson’s seafood department and was in in way part of selling you the mussels you returned I would be ashamed. I won’t try to guess how many mussels are in two pounds, but the fact is you were sold a bag of crap, and if I were in charge I’d make a point of giving you your two pounds after I’d personally tested each one.

  3. i would have returned the mussels too. honestly, not totally for the money. but, like you, i’d rather the mussels rot somewhere else and not in my garage, which already has a funky odor.

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