Although we usually think of spring as a time of rebirth and growth for many edible plants and animals, some foods are actually at their best during the winter months. Mussels are a good example.
Like other species, mussels begin spawning in the spring — an act that apparently affects the quality of their meat. There are many different varieties of mussels throughout the world and about 17 are edible (common blue, Mediterranean, Baltic, and greenshell are the most popular). Wild mussels are found on exposed shores and intertidal zones worldwide, yet most of the mussels that we consume today are farm-raised.
Given their presence on many different continents, traditional recipes for this dish are diverse. France, Belgium, and the Netherlands oftentimes eat theirs steamed with fries (otherwise popularly known as a moules-frites), while Turks generally stuff their mussels with rice, currants, pine nuts, tomatoes, parsley, and spices. Traditional Spanish paella recipes incorporate mussels with chorizo and shrimp, and mussels are served with a black bean sauce in China.
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