Cockles and mussels.....alive....alive-O
Locquirec Travel Blog› entry 7 of 9 › view all entries
May 29th, 2009 – by: azsalsa
In Dublin's fair city, where the girls are so prettyI first set my eyes on sweet Molly MaloneAs she wheeled her wheel-barrowThrough streets broad and narrowCrying cockles and mussels, alive, alive-O!Alive, alive-O! alive, alive-O!Crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive-O!She was a fish-monger, but sure 'twas no wonderFor so were her father and mother beforeAnd they each wheeled their barrowThrough streets broad and narrowCrying cockles and mussels, alive, alive-O!Alive, alive-O! alive, alive-O!Crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive-O!She died of a fever, and no one could save herAnd that was the end of sweet Molly MaloneBut her ghost wheels her barrowThrough streets broad and narrowCrying cockles and mussels, alive, alive-O!Alive, alive-O! alive, alive-O!Crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive-O!
Up until now, the closest I'd ever come to a cockle was hearing the words to this old Irish folksong.
My experience with bi-valves can be traced back to a child's Christmas memories which were steeped in the aroma of juicy, golden crusted, pan fried oysters. Since then, I've become acquainted with chewy, fried clam strips as well as the delicate flavor of tender, sauteed scallops topped with a drizzle of mango coulis on a bed of peppery arugula. I've even developed a penchant over the past few years, for "moules frites", aka: mussles and french fries, steamed in white wine, garlic and butter. But cockles...... they were as "foreign" to me as "bubble and squeak".
When Mark told me that Louise had gone fishing for the afternoon, I envisioned a scene with fishing poles and lures or even fly fishing equipment with hip waders and nets.My midwestern, American upbringing hadn't prepared me for anything to do with sand, buckets or a pole with a claw at one end. I soon learned that Louise had headed off with some friends, to a section of beach, along the Breton coast, which was famous for its cockle fishing.
As an interesting aside, André, Louise's husband, told us that during times of elections (as in the one tomorrow, the 7th of June) if the topic under consideration or the candidates running for office inspire no particular passion in the local citizens, they will be heard to say that they are "going fishing", which understandably excuses them from having to perform such an odious task. I quickly discovered that "fishing" means different things to different people.
As a dyed in the wool landlubber, the whole process of digging one's supper out of the sand so intrigued me that I jumped at the next opportunity to "go fishing", even though I had no legal right to avoid the upcoming election.Since we had to wait a few days for favorable tides, I had some time to shop for some stylish, rubber wading boots which would allow me to fit in "unnoticed" with all the other "fishermen".
We headed out, on a Friday afternoon, along a winding, two lane road which followed the granite rose coastline, past artichoke fields, to a spacious beach tucked into the elbow of the small town of Locquirec. We parked in the small car park which was already as full as the camping site next door. Louise collected our buckets and "fishing" tools from the back of the car as I rolled up my slacks to my knees, exposing lily white legs to the cool sea breeze. If my legs didn't give me away as a tourist then my flowered, rubber knee boots would do the trick just as well. I quickly rolled my pantlegs back down to meet the tops of my boots and followed Louise across the nearly empty beach.Even though this was a holiday weekend there was still plenty of space available for those of us ambitious enough to walk out the low tide, to the sea's edge, in order to stake our claim to the best "fishing" spot.
Louise gave me a quick lesson on technique and soon I was carefully scrutinizing the wet sand, looking for the tiny hole which was the indication that a salty jewel lay breathing beneath the surface. The pickings were lush, as each plunge of the claw into the packed sea earth revealed two and sometimes three good sized shells. I turned into a greedy child, collecting as much as I could to fill my wire basket before the opportunity passed.
Most of the time we worked silently, our private thoughts filling our heads as the briny sea air filled our nostrils.Occasionally, we would show each other a prime specimen from our personal collection, exclaiming over the quality and quantity of our "catch". "The fishing wasn't as good last time," Louise said. "We've found more in half an hour than I did in an hour when I was here last," she added.
I could hardly wait the two days necessary for the lucious creatures to "dégorger" any sand they might be holding, in order for us to taste the fruits of our labor. Louise had a pasta dinner planned, with our cockles as the guests of honor, swimming in a white wine and garlic cream sauce. What a way to go........... too bad they never realized how much enjoyment they brought to a sandrat from the Arizona desert.
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