My father was often away. Traveling the globe to different locations, sometimes far off and exotic other times close to home and familiar, it was a normal way of life for my parents. Before we actually became school going kids, my mother would jet set with him spending a few weeks, maybe a few months depending on how she liked the place my dad was in.
I personally do not remember much about those places during my early years. Pictures and stories told give life to the places in my mind. The memories are slightly blurred.
Later though as we grew older, my dad traveled less. As school began to play a vital role in our lives, my parents decided that “settling down” would be wiser. But “settling down” for them did not mean the house with a white picket fence, a mini van and a dog in some fancy suburban bliss. No – it simply meant the stints my father did in a specific country were longer. Instead of the 6-8 months it was 2-3 years enabling us to live the settled life my parents envisaged.
One of the most valuable times for both my mum and dad was dinner time. My father would have long working days, where lunch was taken at one of the restaurants in the hotel he was working in, my mother busy with her job and my brother and I were usually at school or some afternoon activity during the day, so dinner was the time where we came together as a family. For an Indian family my parents were liberal but the one rule that they did not like being broken was having a proper dinner together as a family.
My mother cooked. Even when we were living in the hotel my mother would make it a point to put a home cooked (or in this case a hotel cooked) meal on the table. She enjoyed cooking for her family and would create lavish meals. Succulent meat curries, elegant rice pilafs, or a delicious pasta dish would be peppered with her love and spiced with her affection.
Time was taken to sit back and talk about the day gone by, what was good, what was bad, problems solved, projects discussed. Dinner time was so much more then just eating. Food was a means for us to come together as a family and be the family we sometimes take for granted. At least once a day we were reminded how precious it was being a family.
I have my own family now and am experiencing probably what my parents felt back then. Tom is in Berlin during the week so weekends are spent trying to play catch. But just like my parents, I find it best to catch up at the dinner table. Tom will often ask why spend the time in the kitchen cooking – I smile. Relax. Eat. Talk. What else can I want?
Mussels are probably the easiest and simplest things one can prepare in the kitchen. Once they are thoroughly clean they do not need much cooking time. They can be prepared using the same basic method with a multiple variety of different ingredients and flavors. Here I serve the mussels in a creamy garlic sauce, diced vegetables and a sprinkling of smoked sea salt.
Mussels in a Creamy Garlic SaucePrintable version of recipe here
2kg fresh mussels
1 tablespoon butter
100 ml dry white wine
150 ml fish stock
2 shallots, finely chopped
5-6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small carrot, diced
1 small parsnip diced
1/2 leek, thinly sliced
100g crème fraîche
Handful chives, chopped
Maldon smoked sea salt
- Scrub the mussels in a large bowl of cold water and discard any that are open. Leave to drain.
- In a large pan, melt butter and sauté shallots and garlic lightly until transparent and fragrant. Add the carrots, parsnip and leek and quickly toss. Cook for approx 1 minute.
- Pour wine and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes, then add the the fish stock.
- Tip in the mussels, bring to a boil, cover and shake the pan over a high heat until the mussels are open - about 3-4 minutes. Discard those mussels that have not opened.
- Stir in the crème fraîche and season with some smoked sea salt to your taste. Sprinkle with chives and serve in large bowls, with a crusty rustic bread or toss with some fresh tagliatelle.
It took me a moment while I was making the mussels, but the realization dawned on me. Trips, outings and excursions with the family are great, we’re out in the fresh air and we have a great time. But it’s only at the dinner table, when we all come together that we take time to address issues and listen to each other. I loved the simple yet extremely bold flavors of the dish. The garlic works wonderfully – infusing the creamy sauce with its fresh and pungent aroma. A glass of wine, a thick crusty rustic bread and dinner was a dream.
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More seafood on WFLH:
|Spicy Black Sesame Sea Bream with Corn-Coriander Salad||Asian Style Tilapia||Cornflakes Coated Fish Fingers with Roasted Root Veggie Chips|
All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2010 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First