Eating seaweed… we’re serious

2018-06-18T11:30:53+00:00 June 6th, 2018|Food and drink|0 Comments

Food and Foraging  by Guy Venables


After spending 40 years of my life surfing I’ve discovered, through necessity, many ways to forage at the seashore. We were always broke but never hungry. The most abundant and initially surprising food source was seaweed. More precisely, Laver, or Porphyra Umbilicalis to be exact. It looks like thin, wet plastic bags, it appears from March onwards, is coloured purple, green or brown and is quite delicious as long as you can wash out the sand. (You can’t really. Not ALL of it.)

Those of you from South West Wales will not be surprised, as for you, it is a local delicacy that sells briskly and used extensively in Laver bread. It is one of the easiest seaweeds to find and is extremely good for you, being full of vitamins A,B,C and D as well as being very low in calories. It was, in fact, much used to counter scurvy by canny Victorian sailors and was claimed to help with flu. A boiled poultice of it was used by fellow surfers and had great healing effects on coral cuts and sand burns.

To eat it we used to clean and soak it in fresh water several times, boil it on a low heat (for several hours, although the blacker it is and the later in the year, the less you need to cook it) and eat it like spinach with handfulls of scavenged mussels cooked dry on a metal plate over a campfire. (The best way to have them) and unlike mushrooms, there are no poisonous seaweeds on the UK shores. We would boil much more than we needed in one sitting and dried the rest on car bonnets to chew later with salt.