Mussel Picking in Scarborough

I could say that it’s getting cold here, but that would be a lie. It is cold. It was so cold one day last week, that it actually snowed in Cape Town. It never snows in Cape Town. Sometimes it snows up on the mountains, but never in the city. It also hailed a whole lot and has been rainy and damp. And this in a place where all of the buildings are built to be cool in the summer. People are constantly complaining about the cold, and then turn to me and say “but you must be used to this.” My response is pretty uniform. “We have indoor heating in Canada. I am not used to wearing a scarf and jacket inside.”

Regardless, we’re keeping busy and trying to make the most of the sunny days before we leave. One of our recent sunny day activities was picking mussels off the rocks in Scarborough, which is a small picturesque village on the other side of Cape Point. Mussel picking is a fantastic activity, especially when it’s too chilly for sandcastle building or swimming. It gives the grown ups a mission, and a reason to go hopping around on the slippery rocks. Plus you get to eat your pickings later on.

Having been informed about this by a friend (who was unfortunately too sick to join us) we bought ourselves licenses at the post office and crossed our fingers that it wouldn’t rain. A month’s license costs $54 (about $5) and you can pick 30 mussels per day. A year’s license is a better deal at R95, but we’re only here for a few more weeks. I wish I had known sooner!

We arrived right at low tide, when the rocks were glistening in the winter sun, and calling to us to scramble over them. The mussels are really easy to pick. Some of them are just lying on the rocks ready to be collected. Others take nothing more than a couple of twists to dislodge. After checking to make sure that every mussel we picked was closed, we rinsed them in the sea water and tossed them into the cooler we brought to store them. The girls played in the sand, climbed tentatively over the rocks and got rather wet. When we had collected a sufficient quantity and the sun started to descend, we called it a day, peeling off Charlie’s soaked pants and hustling the kids into the car.

Josh cooked the mussels with white wine, garlic, onions and butter. Plus we bought a big loaf of crusty white bread, which we slathered with butter and dipped into the salty broth. Both kids loved the salty orange molluscs, and enthusiastically dipped their bread in the broth.

I only wish we had time to do it again!

Sand play The rock pools Whee! Naughty sandy girl The ocean Scarborough PIcking mussels LJ in Scarborough April on the rocks Rock hopping Wet feet! My guys sunset   Mmmussels and bread The evidence Mmm bread and mussels

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