Feb 14 2009
“In the nightmare, the waiter puts a plate of steaming blue mussels on the table. But when his customer digs in, she recoils in disgust. Then she raises her fork and glares: On it is a tiny, dead crab.
Shellfish farmer and dealer Bill Silkes is haunted by scenes like this, both real and imagined. For far too long, his nemesis has been a parasitic crustacean – so puny it’s nicknamed the pea crab – that stands in the way of a thriving mussel aquaculture industry in local waters.”
In my alimentary experience, mussels are the riskiest clam for food poisoning and a sure bet for a long night on the bathroom rug. I haven’t knowingly had a mussel since 1983 at the Union Oyster House in Boston.
So, the parasite thing doesn’t weird me out. I’ve eaten fiddler crabs in Tokyo — shells and all — and a pea crab sounds like a fishy baby aspirin. But a bowl of gaping, labiate orange and black mussels steamed open in a bath of bad chablis and shallots?