Tonight, on the menu at the restaurant to which Karen and I go once a month, the first course is mussels served in a lemon butter sauce. I am not enthusiastic. It never seemed to me that just because something could be eaten that it should be eaten: for me, mussels fall into that shouldn’t-be-eaten category along with lobster and shrimp.
Shellfish have two protective devices–their shell and their mean-spirited appearance. I can’t imagine being the first person to come upon a lobster or shrimp, crawling along the sand, and saying, “I think I’ll eat that.” Or being that person’s friend, wandering next to him along the beach, and saying, “We’ll if you’re going to eat that, I’m going to pry open one of those shells and eat whatever’s inside.”
We have had to live with those decisions ever since, and tonight the result of that lost-to-history, beach-side prying open of a shell is appearing as the first course at my dinner, cooked in lemon butter.