I like mussels. (I think that may be from an 80's song...)
So when I went to the farmers market this past Sunday and saw a fish man there selling fresh mussels, I was excited.
I asked the guy. Are they debearded? I only knew to ask this because I always see "make sure the mussels are debearded" in my recipes. I've never actually had to debeard a mussel so I assumed his answer would be yes. I just like to be thorough.
"No" he said.
"Oh...Can you show me how to do it?"
Exasperated by my lack of seafood preparation knowledge the annoyed fish man held up a sole mussel, pointed to the beard on it (a bunch of stringy weird seaweedy-like threads) and gave it a yank.
He was the crabbiest fish man I'd ever met. I commented on this to another mom standing next to me. She agreed.
"Does that hurt? Them I mean?"
He looked at me like I was the stupidest person in the world, said "I don't know" and tossed the mussel back into the bucket.
"Mom! Don't buy fish! Fish are being extinct!" Said Izzy.
"They're not being extinct - they're becoming extinct. And they're not. At least not these." I didn't need one more ecologically motivated restrictions on my life.
I turned to the crabby fish man. "The Pacific Salmon are being over-fished though, right?" I hoped he would nod and let me buy my mussels without my daughter chastising me.
"They're ALL being overfished! Soon we won't have any!" That didn't seem like a very savvy thing to say saleswise. Wow. Crabby AND poor judgement.
I decided to buy the mussels anyway. Like I said. I likes me some mussels.
"I'll take 2 lbs." As if I was unworthy of his bearded mussels, he tossed them in a bag and took my money.
When I got home and poured them into a colander and started to clean them.
Livi and Ben noticed I was doing something unusual and descended on me like fruit flies on a ripe peach. "Whatcha doin?"
What's a mussel?
It's a kind of fish.
What are you doing to them?
Are you keeping them?
No. I'm going to cook them.
Are they alive?
"Can we keep them? As pets?" I should have seen that coming.
No. I'm going to eat them.
I'm going to eat them.
"Awwwww. That's so sad."
"No it's not. They don't mind."
They watched me lift each one and grab the little beard and yank it off.
"Does that hurt them?"
That's when it dawned on me...stupid questions make a fish man crabby.