For 25 years, I’ve believed I was allergic to mussels. But my third brush with moules at my third year at Lille’s annual braderie has proved me wrong.
The city-wide flea market attracts more than two million visitors to Lille each year. It’s on all this weekend.
The event is synonymous with moules et frites. And overpriced toot.
Here are a few of my favourite examples of the latter. A giant plastic croissant, anyone?
Or how about this fluffy kangaroo? (Count yourself lucky it wasn’t a real one – there were plenty of animals for sale yesterday who’d, erm, been immortalised by a taxidermist.)
Mind you, it’s not all rubbish – and if ever you need more cutlery, you know where to come.
We didn’t buy any of the above, though we did come away with a chair for the cheese-and-wine bar we plan to open and a framed print of the braderie.
But I digress. Back to the moules.
We stopped for lunch in one of our favourite restaurants in town, L’Oiseau. I had the steak tartare and Damon ordered moules marinière.
I’ve had mussels twice before – once when I served them at a dinner party and once at Belgo in London’s Chalk Farm.
On both occasions, I was violently ill. I’ll spare you the details.
Needless to say, moules have been off my menu since then. But I had been wondering recently if I’d just been unlucky on those two occasions.
So I thought I’d try one.
And here I am, alive and able to tell the tale. My third visit to Lille’s braderie has done me a huge favour.
Pity it’ll be my last time here. But, who knows, maybe we can convince the mairie in Belvès to start a braderie of its own…? We’ll see.