Though the market was extremely crowded (we made the mistake of going on a Sunday!), both the employees and the customers were very friendly, happy to point me in the right direction (as the market is very large) and grab me plastic bags when my brussels sprouts tumbled to the ground.
It was so interesting to see what foods various ethnicities gravitated toward, so John and I decided to be adventurous ourselves and buy fresh mussels.
When I got home, I realized that I'd never made mussels before... and then remembered having delicious mussels at my grandmother's house in St. Petersburg Beach through the summers growing up.
Below is the recipe she gave me (thanks Nana!), with some changes that I made based on ingredients I had on hand. They were delicious, and I served the mussels and broth over fresh linguine that we bought at the market as well (a huge difference from the typical dried pasta).
Discard any open, broken or chipped mussels. It is important to clean them to remove any sand from the shells. Soak in clean water for about 20 minutes. Remove any "beards," which are just fibers coming out of the end of the shell. Pull beard toward the hinge end of the shell, so you don't tear the mussel.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 chopped onion
1 sliced carrot and sliced stalk of celery (I used sliced mushrooms instead)
2 1/4 cups chicken broth (or white wine, which I used)
2 1/2 lbs mussels (if using less mussels, use less broth)
Bunch of fresh, torn spinach leaves, or frozen, chopped
*I also added 2 Tablespoons of capers and a couple sprigs of fresh thyme
1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.
2. Add garlic and onion and cook until soft about 5 or 6 min.
3. Add sliced carrot and celery (or mushrooms), cook another 7 or 10 min. until soft.
4. Add mussels
5. Add chicken broth or white wine
6. Cover pan and allow mussels to simmer in the broth mixture until the shells open, about 5 min.
7. Discard any mussels that don't open.
8. Stir spinach (and capers and thyme) into broth just before serving.
Mussels can be served over linguine or with crusty French bread, to dip in the broth, and a fresh green salad.