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Saturday 28 May 2011: La brasucade de moules

With almost all of our planting done in the garden now - 70 tomato plants, 70 pepper plants, 15 aubergines and numerous courgettes, cucumbers, melons and pumpkins of different varieties* - we could relax a bit today, in between moving the watering pipe from row to row. We bought a kilo of mussels from the producer's van that comes every Saturday morning from Bouzigues and cooked them on the barbecue for lunch.

It's the easiest way to cook mussels if you have a barbecue or can light a wood fire outdoors. At this time of the year we're allowed to light barbecues but not unconfined fires because of the risk of wildfire. I use a paella pan or a Spanish sartén honda which is a bit deeper than a paella pan. Once the fire is going well I put lardons (pieces of bacon) into the pan over the fire until they're cooked, then I add a chopped sweet onion (today's was a Spanish one straight from our neighbour's garden) and let that cook for a few minutes, then some sprigs of rosemary, thyme or savoury, or all three, and some chopped garlic. Add the cleaned mussels (about 500 gms per person) and leave over the heat until they have all opened - about 10 minutes. Put the pan in the middle of the table so that everyone can help themselves, eating with their hands and dipping bread into the juices. It's not a dish for being polite with! The only accompaniments it needs are crusty bread and chilled wine, white or rosé. Bon appétit!

* Far too many plants of most of these but all our seeds germinated, we gave some plants away to friends but couldn't bare to throw the surplus away!

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