Until recently, most of the mussels sold in the United States were wild and tended to be rather large. As much as I love mussels, there’s something a bit creepy about having your mouth filled with a single giant. Also, wild mussels often contain a lot of sand. Despite having followed the recommendations of some chefs to soak the mussels in salt water to rid them of sand, I always managed to bite down on grit. Cultivated mussels are becoming more popular and easier to find; they’re smaller, easier to clean, and virtually free of sand. Bright green New Zealand mussels are relatively free of sand and, while more expensive, they look beautiful on the plate. Their flavor, though, isn’t dramatically different from that of regular cultivated mussels.