Denise: Monday’s equinoxal full harvest moon meant a huge ‘spring’ tide, and ideal conditions to harvest the greatest variety and abundance of nature’s marine goodness. Three days later, the tidal range is still considerable, and we’ve been down on our own beach exploring. Tilly has been on forward patrol, J watching our rear (with the camera – also watching out for customers coming to the walled garden and finding no-one at home!) and carrying stuff. Here’s me giving a trimming the pile on a shaggy carpet of pepper dulse (it’s very small and fiddly!). We also came home with about about 4oz (dried weight) of carrageen – nestled amongs some of which were sea-anemone with their arms waving about! The stones here are painted vivid colours with some kind of submarine algae or lichen – I really don’t know what it is – which is quite startling through the shallow water. Back home in the kitchen, we started the long drying of the carageen for use in deserts (recipes another time), the pepper dulse as a seasoning, and some sugar kelp for casseroles (par-boil first, then add to the casserole when it goes in to the oven).
Jonathan: No, not my own version of the BBC’s early 1960s April Foolery! Inspired by Fi Bird’s Seaweed in the Kitchen, and the prospect of a 4.1m spring tide revealing the lowest shelf of the shore-line pantry, after lunch we tooled up and tootled down to the beach at Glendale – two miles away but worth the trouble – to harvest spaghetti. Now if I told you exactly where we found it I’d have to conceal in this post a virus that would would start it’s work by killing your computer … But, seriously, we found it after a long walk and only just had enough time to gather in what we needed and a few other delights, and set off back for the van, leaning into the wind and with the sea gathering up the beach behind us. Here you can see, amongst the straps of kelp, a few strands of the orangey-yellow sea spaghetti (though it mostly grows in thick cascades like Rapunzel’s hair, up to 2 metres long), also the glorious pinky red of dulse, and the bright green of sea lettuce. On the way back to the van we came across huge colonies of mussels, so balanced up our load with a bag of those too.Back home I prepared and cooked the mussels, Denise baked (sprinkled with olive oil) dulse and sea-lettuce into a snack of ‘crisps’. The sea spaghetti was cut into short lengths and boiled like green beans: in fact they turn dark green and not only look but taste quite similar to green beans!
Jonathan: All this talk of seaweed – and foraging generally, has led me to search our bookshelves for our copy of Food for Free. Originally published in 1972, Richard Mabey’s classic, ground-breaking foraging guide has never been out of print since, and has gone through many editions. Mine is a first edition, and would be worth up to £100 – were it not for the gift/owner inscription and the missing dust jacket. However the gift inscription is that of my Dad to my Mum on her birthday, and that’s where the value lies for me. This was my Mum’s book, and has all the character that comes from more than 30 years of familiarity. And now I reckon there’ll be many years more of use in our own time.