Foodie Friday! We were out to dinner last weekend and two of us split a plate of mussels as an appetizer.
They were delicious but they also got me thinking. As you’re probably aware, mussels are part of the clam family. There are lots of different varieties and you can prepare them in any of several ways. You can grill them, fry them, smoke them or boil them. Most of the time, they’re steamed in wine and/or water with different herbs and garlic.
Unlike other types of shellfish, I’m not aware of many places serving mussels on the half shell uncooked. I’m not sure why that is although I’d speculate that it’s because their shell seems more fragile to me – sort of like steamer clams which aren’t really suitable to be served on the half shell. It would be hard to get them open without breaking the shells and disturbing the meat inside. You can tell if they’re alive before you cook them (and the MUST be) because they’ll shut down a bit when you disturb them.
Isn’t it interesting how working productively to supervise other folks can be just like cooking mussels? The method of doing so usually involves the application of slow, gentle heat to coax the best out of them. You can’t just apply that heat, to people, however intensely, and expect them to turn out great results. Screaming at staff doesn’t work, nor do threats. Explanations of goals and desired outcomes as a conversation (not a lecture) work wonders. You’re in charge – you need to add the things that will enhance what your folks are bringing to the table – herbs and spices to the mussels; clear direction, and timing for your staff.
The expressions “clam up” applies both to shellfish and people. Make them feel unsafe and they shut down, drawing shells tight around them. It’s critical to notice if people DON’T react to events going on around them. Those may be the ones that have lost their spark completely and, like dead shellfish, need to be dealt with before they spoil the dish (they can make you sick too!).
Managing as if you’re cooking mussels isn’t a bad thought in my book. Yours?