Originating in Nord, the Channel coast and the Flanders interior, mussels and chips (moules-frites) are the great speciality of this part of France.
Bouchot mussels are normally used, about a litre and a half per person. They are washed then cooked marinière-style with onions, shallots, white wine, garlic, parsley, celery, thyme, bay leaf and pepper, until the molluscs open up. Then they are served with freshly-made chips and a nice glass of beer or white wine.
Mussels and chips is the signature dish of the Lille annual street market (Braderie de Lille), which takes place each year at the beginning of September. This is when local restaurateurs make the famous mountains of empty mussel shells in front of their restaurants, the challenge being, of course, to see who has the biggest heap!