Place of origin
Moules-frites (French pronunciation: [mul.fʁit]]; Dutch: mosselen-friet) is a popular main dish of mussels and fries originating in Belgium but also popular in France. The title of the dish is French, Moules meaning mussels and frites fries, with the Dutch name for the dish meaning the same.
The portion of moules in Belgian restaurants tends to be one and a half kilograms per person, which can be prepared in several different ways.
Though moules-frites are popular in France, it is thought that they originated in Belgium. It is likely that the dish was created by combining mussels, a popular and cheap foodstuff eaten around the Flemish coast, and fried potatoes which were commonly eaten around the country in winter when no fish or other food was available. This view is supported by a 1781 manuscript, entitled "Curiosités de la table dans les Pays-Bas - Belgiques" (figuratively "Gastronomic curiosities in the Belgian Netherlands,: and literally, "Curiosities of the table in the Low Country - Belgium") which describes how the inhabitants of Namur, Dinant and Andenne around the Meuse River had eaten potatoes, cut and fried, since about 1680.
Variants and presentation
The ways in which the mussels are cooked in the dish can vary significantly. Here are some of the many variants:
- Moules marinières: Probably the most common and internationally recognisable recipe, Moules marinières includes white wine, shallots, parsley and butter to cook the mussels.
- Moules à la crème: Another common recipe, where the stock is thickened with flour and cream.
- Moules parquées: A dish, probably originating in Brussels, of raw mussels on half a shell, served with a lemon-mustard sauce.
- Moules à la bière: In this recipe, the mussels are cooked in a sauce containing beer, instead of white wine.
- Moules à l'ail: The mussels are cooked with garlic.
They can also be served with "Mosselsaus", a sauce that is made with mayonnaise, mustard and vinegar.
As a dish, the moules and the frites are usually served on separate plates or dishes so that the fries do not become moist. Often, the moules are served in the same pan and stock used to cook them. A second pan or dish is generally also provided in which the mussels' shells can be left once the mussels themselves have been eaten.
Nutritional information and popularity
According to a French nutritionist, the optimum quantity of mussels is one litre, considering their nutritional value and Omega 3 content, but not more than 150 grams of fries. This quantity should contain between 500-600 kilocalories.
In both Belgium and France, moules-frites are available in most restaurants. According to a survey conducted by TNS, moules-frites was identified as the second favourite dish in France, receiving a vote of 20%, narrowly losing to magret de canard which received 21%.
In popular culture
- Malgieri, Nick. "A National Obsession: Belgium's Moules Frites". saveur.com. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
- "Culinary Encyclopedia: Moules-frites". www.ifood.tv. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
- (French) "Moules - frites". Retrieved 2 December 2012.
- "Mussels". visitbelgium.com. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
- Blanc, Raymond. "Moules marinières". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
- "Belgium: Moules-frites". Where the food is. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
- (French) "Qui peut faire la peau à la " moules-frites " ?". La Voix du Nord. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
- (French) "Le magret de canard, plat préféré des Français, devant les moules-frites". Les News Nutrition. news.doctissimo.fr. Retrieved 2 December 2012.