Combining Pleasures: Eating Mussels on the Beach in Belgium

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In hindsight, that hip group of French people next to us on the beach that first day might not have been eating moules et frites from a few styrofoam take-out boxes. Maybe it was just plain old frites (but still Belgian!). It doesn’t matter, though. I was filled with envy, and decided that we would do the same.

So, on Sunday afternoon, still a little groggy after eating, drinking and dancing the whole night away at our friends’ wedding, we set up our station at the beach, and I asked Jeff to go get some mussels and fries for us to eat right there, toes-almost-in-water.
While we waited, Amelia found that a bunch of whole, live mussels had washed up on the shore!

It took a long time. Quite a bit longer than I had expected… But Jeff did not come back empty-handed. It turns out that no one actually packs mussels up to be eaten on the beach! But Jeff did not want to let me down, and so he persisted, visiting all of the restaurants on the beach front, asking, until someone threw up his hands and shrugged apathetically, “Ok, fine! I will do it. But if you don’t bring back the pot, then f— you.”  Jeff said, No problem!
And this is what he brought me:

What a treat! I ate mostly mussels, Amelia ate mostly fries, and Jeff had equal parts of each.

Quite a few people walked by, smiling and nodding with approval.

And of course these guys were especially vigilant…

And I will admit it:  I felt ridiculously lucky to be eating mussels just a few feet from the ocean they had come from.

Well done, Jeff!

And, so, another wonderful summertime beach + food memory was made…

What is your best beach food memory? I love to hear about this sort of thing!


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15 Responses to Combining Pleasures: Eating Mussels on the Beach in Belgium

  1. greatdana September 5, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    And now I am feeling envy, thanks a lot! 🙂

    • Ariana September 11, 2012 at 8:27 am #

      Are there places on the Oregon Coast that do mussels? I don’t think I remember eating seafood there, actually! But we usually brought food….

  2. Happy Homemaker UK September 5, 2012 at 9:20 pm #

    What a great story & it looks so yummy. I hope you can join the Bloggers Tea – it would be great to have you there!

    • Ariana September 11, 2012 at 8:27 am #

      Thanks, Laura. I hope to sign up soon!

  3. Robin September 6, 2012 at 2:59 am #

    My favorite beach food memory is corn on the cob, husks pulled back to remove the silk; then buttered, salted and peppered, and re-wrapped in the husk. This corn is then rolled in a big piece of aluminum foil and thrown in the beach fire which has burned down to hot coals. When I was growing up my mom made an ice chest full of this corn when we’d go to Huntington Beach for beach parties with the college kids. Long tongs are used to turn the corn until it’s been in there a while – it’s rather inexact – then you get one out, take off the foil and let it cool a bit. The husks make a good handle and -oh- it is so good!! That and watermelon are the perfect beach food, served together.

    • Ariana September 11, 2012 at 8:29 am #

      That sounds really, really good! I mostly remember sandwiches, chips, hot dogs and s’mores from California beach days– but those foods tasted really good, too!
      I’m pretty sure everything tastes good after a few hours in the sand and sea…

  4. Marisa September 6, 2012 at 4:12 am #

    Well done indeed! I am impressed with Jeff’s perseverance – what a guy. You are a very lucky lady 🙂 And I am so happy for you that you’ve had these wonderful trips to France and Belgium – as I’ve said before you really seem to come alive on the continent. And that is an incredible feeling that can’t be recreated or faked. And I know you have savored every moment!

    Growing up my grandparents lived in a house overlooking Puget Sound and we were so lucky to have direct beach access from their house. We had to go down this rickety old staircase that went down the steep bluff to the railroad tracks and then the beach below. And while we did have big family beach parties with all the usual beach party fixings (roasted hot dogs, corn and marshmallows of course)my favorite food memory is of the enormous and ridiculously plump and sweet wild blackberries that grew on the bluff. I can vividly remember eating them as we’d walk up and down that long staircase. To this day I’ve never come across any blackberries that delicious – they were something else I tell you! Thanks for getting me thinking about this memory of mine – makes me smile and feel wistful at the same time 🙂

    • Ariana September 11, 2012 at 8:32 am #

      Yep, I was definitely impressed with Jeff’s perseverance, too! The blackberries near the beach makes me think that the coast there must be pretty similar to the ones here– everything grows right up to the beach front, it seems like. So different from the mile-long stretch of hot sand in Southern California. Sounds like such a sweet memory. And how nice that you are still close by, and can visit those same spots as an adult. When was the last time you went? Were there still blackberries growing there?

  5. MeMock September 7, 2012 at 4:46 am #

    Icecream. Simple as that. We didn’t get to the beach to often as kids but when we did the afternoon was always a cricket game on the beach followed by a long walk down to the icecream shop. Wonderful memories.

    I hope you took the pan back!

    • Ariana September 11, 2012 at 8:34 am #

      Ice cream on the beach is a great idea! When we go to Aldeburgh here, it is a more developed little beach village, and there are always lines of people waiting to buy ice cream cones.

      And, yes, of course we brought the pot back! No need to ruin in for anyone else who might want to try talking them into packing mussels to take onto the beach! I think we left an extra tip, as well…

  6. Rebecca September 7, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    Ha! I can’t think of a best, just an absolute worst. My grandmother would always pack us canned peaches and cottage cheese when we went to the beach (Point Lookout in Long Island) and by the time we would get around to eating it, it was warm, sandy, and downright vile. Not nearly as nice as anything you talk about eating at the beach. The mussels are gorgeous and that’s one sweetly dedicated husband you have there.

    • Ariana September 11, 2012 at 8:37 am #

      Oh, no! That sounds really terrible! I think you’ll need to go to the beach soon and make some good food memories. 🙂

  7. Jenny September 8, 2012 at 6:11 am #

    What a great way to spend a day! And kudos to your hubby for making it happen.
    My favorite beach days are from the years we spent in Australia. The most gorgeous beach was at my front door and I spent countless hours watching my littles dig in the sand, climb through the tide pools and splash in the gentle waves.

    • Ariana September 11, 2012 at 8:39 am #

      Jenny, that sounds unbelievably amazing! I often fantasize about living near the beach– especially in a place with frequent sunshine. I can’t think of a better childhood back yard, either..


  1. At the Beach in De Haan, Belgium | And Here We AreAnd Here We Are - June 17, 2014

    […] •It has the softest sand I have ever felt.  Seriously.•Families from all over the world.  De Haan is very much a family-friendly town.  There are lots of parks, bikes and trikes of all kinds to rent, and you will just see families all over the place.  I love it.  I really enjoy being just one family amongst so many, from so many different places.• Another family-friendly aspect of this beach is that, for most of the day, there is a small, shallow area of water for kids to play in.  It’s warmer, and great to splash around in, for kids that are not yet strong swimmers.  Amelia loves it. •The beach in De Haan still retains a little bit of wildness.  Most beaches in Europe have huge hotels covering their sea front.  Not only is there really charming Belle Époque architecture, but there is a great stretch of natural grassy dunes, and it’s pretty.  I love that. (And yes– I do want to ride a horse on along the shore one of these days!)•It’s so easy to enjoy the beach all day when you have lounge chairs and parasols available to rent! This was the first time we rented any equipment at the beach in De Haan, and it was great.  For £17 we had the use of two lounge chairs and a parasol all day long. Totally worth it.  We brought a cooler with lunch items from the grocery store, and we were able to look out at the sea, watch Amelia, eat lunch, and not worry about sunburns.  (I’ll admit that I don’t really “get” the allure of using the loungers like you see in the picture below– so far from the sea, not even facing it.  We dragged ours out away from the windbreaks, and pointed them at the sea.) • Drinks on the beach!  We didn’t notice this little wine bar until we were already leaving.  How fantastic!  Next time, I will definitely want to enjoy a Belgian beer or a cold glass of wine with my feet in the sand here. (I’m pretty sure they serve ice cream, too.)•As you leave the beach, there are brushing stations, where you can brush the sand off your feet and fix your hair in the mirror.  How thoughtful! Another thing I love (not pictured) which is common at other European beaches is a promenade just up the steps from the beach front where you can eat, have a drink, and look out at the beach.  We love that.  And sometimes, if your husband is committed to making you very happy, you can convince one of the restaurants to let you take moules frites right on the beach! […]

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