Eating mussels raw is an Apulian addiction and, long before the rocky little Ionian coastline had been transformed by summer villas, on summer evenings crowds of people, entire families, congregated round little bivouacs made of bamboo, to consume them with bread and wine. Inheritance from mesolithic times (see Apropos of a Salt Herring).
Mussels can no longer be eaten raw. They are often cooked to flavour spaghetti, or can be used with prawns in a risotto. There is a delightful way of preparing them – which every Apulian woman knows – which I learned from the proprietor of the Pesce Fritto at Taranto, made with mussels, large, delicate, of a wonderful orange colour, dragged from the Mare Piccolo.