Student - January 20, 2010

Mussels make you happy

In recent years oily fish have seemed to be the Magical Food. They are good for your heart and vascular system and there was even a rumour that eating oily fish now and again would help your mental well-being.

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Ondine van de Rest decided to examine that claim, however her PhD study concluded that oily fish has no effect on the memory, powers of concentration and mental well-being of the elderly. A shame really; all the old people I know (and care about) love the occasional mackerel or salt herring.
I am actually thinking about these research results in Rome, where I see one delicious fish dish after another. Every single one of them makes me very happy: the filetti di baccala, grilled bass and marinated fresh sardines. But of course I am not elderly. You should definitely try the Italian mussel dish below - technically not fish but a guarantee of happiness. 
Italian mussels 
Preparation time: 30 min
Starter for 4 people
- 12kg mussels
- chilli flakes to taste
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- good helping of extra virgin olive oil
- 300g ripe tomatoes, preferably peeled
- 1 glass of dry white wine
- 4 thick slices of white bread, toasted

Clean the mussels and pick out the bad ones (the ones that don't close up when you give them a good tap on the draining board). Fry one of the garlic cloves and the chilli flakes in a good helping of olive oil until they are golden brown. Then take the garlic and chilli out of the oil and add the tomatoes. Let them cook for 10 minutes.  Add the mussels and cook over a high flame until they open. Pour in the white wine and cook until it evaporates. Finally, sprinkle the second chopped garlic clove on top and add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with crisp bread slices to soak up the juices.

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