Bouzigues oysters and mussels

 Bouzigues Oysters

Shellfish farming on the Mediterranean coast began at Sète in 1875. As the Mediterranean does not have tides, it was necessary to use a special technique: suspended culture, carried out using 'tables' made of rails supporting ties and crossed poles. 

These days, nearly half of France's oyster production comes from the Etang de Thau lagoon. This deep-cupped variety, the so-called Bouzigues oyster, named after one of the smallest and most attractive villages in the Thau basin, is in fact produced and enjoyed in all the towns and villages around the edge of the lagoon where oyster farming is practised, such as Mèze and Marseillan. 

With their marbled, jagged shells and salt-water freshness with nutty highlights, 'Bouzigues oysters' are a treat for the tastebuds. Normally eaten raw, they can also be served 'au gratin', with garlic and parsley butter, or in a white wine and shallot sauce. 

 Mussels from the Thau basin 

Mussel growing predates shellfish farming. Almost 3000 tonnes of Mediterranean mussels are produced each year in the Thau basin. 
They are of a particular variety, called Mytilus Galloprovincialis. They are grown from spat harvested in the sea, and these 'seeds' are rope-grown Marseille style, inside double cotton netting submerged in deep water.

It takes around 12 months for the mussels to reach an acceptable size. They're larger and plumper than deep sea mussels, and have a beautiful bright colour and a very strong salty flavour. 

They can be eaten raw or cooked, as 'moules marinières' or barbecued over vine twigs, according to taste, and the largest ones are of course stuffed using a traditional Sète recipe.

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