On my break from my sorting and throwing, I set my DVR to the Olympics (so that I could skip the, tarnation, commercials). I cooked and ate and watched a movie.
For supper, I had mussels, steamed in white wine and Sambuca, garlic and parsley and chives.
Mussels are a favorite light supper. They are fun and easy and tasty. When you buy them, make sure to ask the fishmonger when they came in. If they were more than two days, buy something else. Ask the fishmonger to sort them. Think in terms of a pound per person. If the fishmonger is worth her salt-water seafood, she’ll put a little ice in with the critters. Get them home swiftly and into the fridge. You may have to scrub them off a little and “de-beard” them…no, nothing of Richard III … which reference will have greater significance below.
Give them a nice soak in water, so they’ll give up any sand they have. I do this a couple times. In the meantime, in a big pan you can cover tightly, I start with a tiny bit of olive oil, a tablespoon of finely chopped onion, and a couple cloves of minced garlic, a splash of white wine.
This time I added my own blend of dried Fine Herbes and then some Sambuca. Variations are nearly endless. Start the concoction to boil add the be-shelled critters, clamp down the lid, and wait. I like to put my ear close to the lid and listen for the grisly chorus of the their little screams of agony. Just kidding… they don’t scream in agony. Even if they did, who cares? I’m the top of the food chain. Hint: to help get over any squeamishness, it helps to name them individually.
They will open up pretty quickly, if you started the boil ahead of time. A glass lid helpful. Do NOT try to pry open and eat any that didn’t open. No. Really.
“But Father! But Father!” you are saying, “You are a mean molluscacide! I will never eat mussels. You are against Vatican II. … but… What movie were you watching? Probably something patriarchal.”
This is a great movie, which bears many viewings. It is one of three movies I have seen in the last 20 years or so after which no one left the theater, but watched the full credits. There are layers and layers of meaning. There is so much parent/child baggage in this, it rends the heart.
For me, we get in the movie – aside from any historical accuracies or inaccuracies – a beautiful profile of true courage. Historically, “Bertie” had to step up in a critical time, with disadvantages, in the view of his whole country. I like to think that the courage of the father of the present queen, who in a spirit service tackled his greatest fears in the sense of duty, inspired her through the last six decades.
The cast… can it be better than this? Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Derek Jacobi, Michael Gambon, Claire Bloom, Guy Pearce and Eve Best as Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson – creepy accurate, Timothy Spall, Anthony Andrews.
The dialogue is also terribly witty. A sample:
Bertie starts to light a cigarette from a silver case.
LIONEL: Don’t do that.
Bertie gives him an astonished look.
BERTIE: I’m sorry?
LIONEL: Sucking smoke into your lungs will kill you.
BERTIE: My physicians say it relaxes the throat.
LIONEL: They’re idiots.
BERTIE: They’ve all been knighted.
LIONEL: Makes it official then. My “castle,” my rules.
And the scene when Myrtle comes home early… brilliant.
As the new King is watching a film reel of Hitler during a rally, little future Queen Elizabeth asks what he is saying. Bertie says, “I don’t know, but he seems to be saying it rather well.” With something of the Faramir about him, he watches with riveted and knowing trepidation.
Another point: the abdication of Edward. The film underscores the contrast of duty and selfishness. Edward (David) is set to do something that his Church – of which he is laughably the head – is wrong. If he cannot force the Church to conform to him, he will abandon his duty. Of course the Church of England, tied to the state, must inevitably follow common mores and trends. Damning, really. But I digress.
There are, by the way, good recordings of the real players available on YouTube. Fascinating. And still in living history, though fading.
Back to sorting and the Olympics.