My little vacation was relaxing, pleasant, not too expensive - because I mainly stayed at home and ... too short. It made a welcome change from my usual stressy life though. I went to the our weekly outdoor twice: the first time to buy mussels - the first real Dutch mussels of the season which are grown in the Waddenzee and the Easter Scheld. While the French 'bouchot' mussels are grown on stalks, the Dutch mussels are being grown in baskets that lie on the sea bed.
The Dutch mussel growers collect the 'mussel seed' (tiny colonies of mini-mussels) from the sea bed and take them to the Waddenzee and/or the Easter Scheldt (rich in plankton) where they are left to do their thing; i.e. growing into tasty and juicy mussels, with a nice black shell and plenty of cream-coloured 'flesh'. After two or three years they are ready for consumption.
Although we can get bouchot mussels nearly all year round, to us Belgians mussel season normally starts around July 21st, the Belgian Fête Nationale, when the first Dutch mussels appear on the market stalls and on the menu cards of restaurants. Many restaurants serve these mussels from July till February. It was once believed that one should only eat them in months that have an 'R' in their name. So July or even August would be too early, but every self-respecting mussel fan won't wait till September and indulge in his favourite seafood as soon as it is available.
Because, although the mussels are a Dutch produce, we Belgians are the main mussel consumers/per head.
So we had mussels, on the first day of my short vacation ... they were utterly delicious. Sorry, no photos, too busy eating.
But I do have an 'enigma' photo for you. It's been a while since I invited you to a little quiz. So what do make of the above photo? Good luck!