06 February

I don't like mussels

Statements like: "I don't like mussels", "I don't to eat raw food" are something, we at Vilsund Blue often hear, when talking with consumers.

The main misunderstanding, we meet, is that many people, who have never tried mussels, think that they are eaten raw or confuse them with oysters. And actually eating mussels is not as common in Denmark, as you would expect for a country where bivalves have been a part of the diet since the stone age.

Mussels have slowly become a more common food for the Danes, but they have actually not learned eating mussels in Denmark.

Danes travel around the world and after eating moules frites in France or Paella in Spain, they became familiar with the mussels and slowly the Danish restaurants started have mussels on the menu. After having tasted mussels abroad and at restaurants the Danes, within the last 10 years, have slowly started making mussels at home and all supermarket chains in Denmark now have live mussels on the shelfs as the fish mongers have had for many years.

But still a lot of Danes have never tasted mussels.

In order to promote mussels, we have over the years made many mussel samplings around the country. We have a small "Mussel-truck" with which we have visited fairs and markets all over the country and giving free samples of mussels to children and grownups alike.Often we hear the kids asking us "What's that?" and "May I have one?" and the parent saying "You do not like that?" In that situation we always ask the mother (or father), whether she has tasted mussels herself. 9 of 10 have parents which this reaction have never tasted mussels. So we try to get the parent to taste and if she is not willing, we ask whether the kid may try. The kids almost always like the mussels and quite often get theirs parents to taste.

So how come Danes have no tradition for eating mussels. Well Denmark is a small country (5,5 millon) and as such highly depending upon trade with other countries. Seafood is one of the few natural resources we have and export has always been huge. So we have actually been exporting the main part of our wonderful mussels to other European countries. At present more than 90 % of the mussels landed to Vilsund end up at consumers tables outside of Denmark.

So maybe some of the people coming back from France or Spain talking about the fabulous mussels they had on their vacation, did actually eat Danish mussels out there.

We hope that within a generation, if not before, we will get to a point, where the Danes saying "I don't like mussels" say it because they actually don't like the taste of the mussels and not because they are afraid to try.

Søren Mattesen
Managing Director at Vilsund Blue a/s