“Alive, Alive-O”

My mussels sans cockles. Photo by Cindy Dyer.

“Molly Malone
Click here to cue music to this traditional Irish tune.
In Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone
As she wheeled her wheel-barrow
Through streets broad and narrow
Crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive-O!

Alive, alive-O! alive, alive-O!
Crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive-O!
She was a fish-monger, but sure ’twas no wonder
For so were her father and mother before
And they each wheeled their barrow
Through streets broad and narrow
Crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive-O!

Alive, alive-O! alive, alive-O!
Crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive-O!
She died of a fever, and no one could save her
And that was the end of sweet Molly Malone

But her ghost wheels her barrow
Through streets broad and narrow
Crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive-O!
Alive, alive-O! alive, alive-O!
Crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive-O!

I’ve always been intimidated by mussels. I love to order them but never learned how to prepare them. So I flexed my own little muscles and bought a fresh bag at Wegman’s last week. I found a recipe, fiddled with the ingredients and, to my great surprise, they were so easy to make and so good to eat! Add some bread and wine and grab a chair on your deck and enjoy the summer. Follow these instructions and fear no more.

Steamed Mussels

  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 3-6 cloves of chopped garlic (Some people use up to a dozen cloves; it all depends on your preference.)
  • 2 bags of mussels (Wash and throw away any open shells or ones that won’t close if you tap on them. Remove any stringy stuff that looks like corn silk with needle-nose pliers. Really, you won’t find much—this sounds more complicated than it is.)
  • 2 chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, chopped (or more)
  • 1 cup white wine

Wash mussels and set aside. Sauté chopped garlic in olive oil in a large sauce pan until soft. Add butter, chopped tomatoes and fresh basil. Stir until butter is melted. Add white wine and mussels and steam for 10-12 minutes. All shells should open; if they don’t, discard them. Serve immediately. 

In Memory Of

This recipe was adapted from Delicious Memories of Karen’s Kitchen (Morris Press Cookbooks, 2007) — A collection of recipes by family and friends of Karen Circharo to support the Karen Circharo Memorial Fund. Proceeds from the cookbook benefit the Sister to Sister: The Women’s Heart Health Foundation. I didn’t know Karen, who passed away at 47 from heart disease; the book was a gift to me. Like so many of these homegrown cookbooks, the recipes are fabulous because people submit their finest.

The dedication in the book, written by Robin Silvis, reports that Karen Marie Circharo was a creative cook, wonderful hostess, loving wife, devoted mother and so much more. I would have loved to meet her.

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3 thoughts on ““Alive, Alive-O”

  1. Hey Barb, to clean the mussels I place them In fresh, cool water for a half hour or so. This helps to filter out any sand that may be inside the mussels. This recipe sounds great! I will try it soon. Bobby G.

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