At least one thing is cheap in (this part of) France: Shellfish! At 2E40 a kilo, mussels are a downright bargain. I actually went to the big fish farm at Sete where they are grown about an hour away from Montpellier so I can attest to their freshness. So last Saturday I threw a little party chez moi, where I fed 9 people with nothing but mussels (6 kg) and bread (and pasta for anybody who wanted it). Total bill for food: about 20E, making it approximately the cheapest meal any of us have eaten since we arrived.
So, mussels are pretty damned easy, and I didn't actually get many pictures (since I was cooking batches as the party was in swing) making this a somewhat useless post. I do get to gloat, however.
So here are all my ingredients for the mussel portion of the night's entertainment:
Those are leeks, some kind of green onion thing ( I didn't even catch the name in french) lemons, and so many mussels my kitchen did not come equipped with a large enough container for them all. All the veggies ran something like 4E50 at the sunday market in the arab quarter, and the mussels were 14E40 for the set.
I prepped everything with my tiny little cutting board and crap knife that I sharpened on the bottom of a casserole. Cleaning and de-bearding 6kg of mussels takes a really long time, and clogged my sink pretty badly. Et voila:
Not pictured: bathtub full of disgusting mussel flotsom. Also, mussels. Pictured: to bottom left, some homemade aioli. Chopped up a bunch of garlic, mixed into mayo with spicy dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Turned out nice and hot and tasty, good to dab lightly on the mussels.
This is the part where I don't have pictures, but it's ok since mussels are easy (qed). I melted copious amounts of butter with a healthy dash of white wine at what I would guess is medium heat (4 out of 10 on an idiosyncratic electric stove) and tossed in a couple dozen mussels with some healthy handfuls of leek and onion. Close the top to steam, and as soon as they open they're ready to come out. Any that don't open should be disposed of with great alacrity. Since 6 kg requires batch cooking, I threw the resulting panful of coquillage with its sauce into a dish in the oven and started over. I was able to catch one blurry shot of the results in between stove and gullet.