Mali Ston Mussels

We spied the mussel and oyster plots in the deep blue water from the hilltops as we drove into Croatia’s Mali Ston, and as we rounded the corner to park we saw one of Croatia’s many salty sea dogs cleaning them for sale. My mind jumped to one of my stock standard meals I used to make in NZ, fresh mussels steamed in little more than a can of tinned tomatoes with fresh herbs and some seasoning, and served with spaghetti, the ultimate cheap dinner in.I wanted to relive the memories, so we picked up a pile of the salty gems for next to nothing and forged ahead on our long drive north to Skradin that evening. Upon arrival at our free camping spot, I soon realised this perhaps wasn’t the smartest meal to prepare in the van, especially when trying to be a little stealth. Anything that requires steam to cook means very steamy van windows, which screams There’s Someone in Your Car Park Cooking Dinner.

We threw caution to the wind for the love of food, however, and once the mussels were ready it was time to serve up. But our plastic bowls were too small for such fare, so onto the very shallow plastic plates. Tomatoey broth splashing around, we were ready to eat. But where? We needed space for such a notoriously slurpy meal, and somewhere for the shells.We cleared the floor of the van of shoes and bags and set up for a fairly uncomfortable, dead-leg inducing dinner. While pretty tasty, the meal wasn’t what I had hoped for. Due to my haste in getting the dinner ready without being stopped by any locals for squatting, quite a few of the mussels hadn’t fully opened and thus couldn’t be eaten. And the discomfort wasn’t really worth the hassle. So, mussels haven’t joined the Bee’s dinner repertoire, but I’ve still been ordering them at any chance I get, leaving the cooking, serving and clean up to the professionals.

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