<br/>Photo: Tom Cinko / Degustation <i>à la Broodthaers</i> 
Degustation à la Broodthaers
Photo: Tom Cinko

Main Course

Curried Mussels with Eggs and Milk

This will forever be Café Broodthaers' signature dish. It was inspired by the works of the late Marcel Broodthaers, whose famous assemblages of eggshells and mussel shells can be seen in contemporary art museums throughout the world. As Broodthaers' works bemoaned the loss of content and substance in the art world, we at the Homeless Museum decided to make a statement for cultural renewal, symbolized by this high-protein main course that we are offering to every visitor of the Homeless Museum.

Ingredients (serves 24):

  • 2 Dozen Organic Poultry Eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 Fresh Garlic Cloves, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 Pound of Fresh Mussels (preferably Prince Edward)
  • Home-made Curry Powder (see below)
  • Fleur de Sel
  • 3 Quarts of Organic Whole Milk

Carefully layer the eggs into a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add enough cold water just to cover. Bring to a boil, then immediately turn off the heat source and cover the pot with the lid. Leave the eggs undisturbed for exactly 10 minutes (wait any longer and the yolks' edges will turn an unsightly green). Place the eggs into an ice bath. Gently crack the shells at several places and peel the eggs while still slightly warm, careful to avoid tearing the egg white. Place the shelled eggs in a bowl and cover them with cold water. Refrigerate until needed.

Clean the mussels under cold running water. Discard any whose shells are chipped. Remove beards by pulling them off with a paring knife. Place a pot with a heavy bottom and tight-fitting lid over a high flame. Pour in the olive oil. Add the garlic and fry it until slightly browned. Add the mussels and scatter a teaspoon or more of curry powder over them. Toss lightly. Cover with the lid. Cook the mussels for one minute, shaking the pot now and then to distribute the oils and spices. Check if all mussels are opened (depending on the mussels' size, another minute of cooking may be required), then take the pot off the heat source. When cool enough to handle, remove each mussel from its shell, using one pair of shells like tongs, and set aside in a bowl. Discard shells and any mussels that have not opened. Return the pot with the pan juices to the fire and reduce until syrupy. Pour the sauce over the mussels and toss lightly. Cover the bowl with plastic foil and refrigerate until needed.

To serve:

Cut a thin slice of the bottom of each egg so they can stand upright and place them on individual, small serving plates. Add one mussel per plate and spoon a bit of the reduced cooking liquid over it. Place a wooden pick on each plate. Serve with glasses of milk and a dish of fleur de sel on the side.


- Slightly aged eggs are easier to peel. Buy farm fresh eggs and you will curse them as you try to pry their shells away from the clinging egg whites. Aim for eggs that are at least two weeks old. Don't fret: raw eggs, if stored properly, have a shelve-life of up to five weeks.

- The quality of this dish should not be compromised by the use of commercial curry powder. Take pride in making your own and feel free to change the ratio of spices according to your finances and taste.

Home-Made Curry Powder

Ingredients (makes about half a cup of curry powder):

  • 1 Tablespoon each of: White Pepper Corns; Coriander, Cumin, Fennels and Fenugreek seeds
  • 1 Dried Hot Chili
  • 4 1/2 Cloves
  • 2 Star Anise
  • 1/2 Nutmeg
  • 1 Small Cinnamon Stick

Toast spices in a skillet until fragrant, shaking them sporadically. Do not heat them to the smoking point, or they will burn. Let them cool down on a plate; then transfer to an electric spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Grind or pound to a medium coarse powder. Store in an airtight container.

Curried Mussels with Eggs was first served at HoMu BKLYN's inauguration on March 13, 2005. We expected a group of 50 VIP visitors who had reserved seats for a brunch at Café Broodthaers through the Armory Show, which co-sponsored the event along with Swiss Institute Contemporary Art. Due to causes that have remained undetermined to this very day, none of the confirmed VIPS showed up. For the following weeks, the HoMu staff fed on egg salad. The milk was used to make HoMu Yogurt . The mussels, however, had to be eaten within 24 hours. Now, one and a half years later, we can barely keep up with requests and regularly run out of food during our monthly openings.