Wow. If ever there was a book that I wish I’d penned then this is it. This or Harry Potter.
But this is the book that has been in my head for years, one that has been lacking on every UK based foragers shelf; a guide to finding and eating the array of yummy treats found on our coastlines fresh & free to those who bother to look.
Since living in Japan in the early 90’s I have harboured a love of seaweed in many forms, from the delicate sheets of nori wrapped round sushi rice and topped with a myriad of jewel coloured sashimi, to thick strips of Kombu bubbling away in a vat of (somewhat stinky) stock which (according to this book) is a major ingredient in miso soup. I didn’t know that.
Where did we lose this love of seaweed? This island of ours is quite literally surrounded by it and surely our ancestors would have relied on it year round for vital vitamins & nutrients and yet today we turn our noses up at it. No more.
My fascination & proximity to the beach means I have collected an impressive collection of seashore & seaweed books. Most of the books available are for correctly IDing different types of seaweed and sealife, more still are recipe books aimed at cooking said ingredients but none I have found deal with the only issue I am interested in – locating & identifying the native bits I can eat.
At last I find one that does.
It covers all the edibles you may find along the UK coast from Cockles & Mussels to Sea Beet & Samphire to Lobsters & Kelp. It also includes a chapter on legal issues, health & safety issues and to top it all off has a rather inspiring recipe section at the back. I’m definitely gonna try the Seaweed & Elderflower Panna Cotta this spring and when I’ve made my prawning net I’ll try the Spicy Prawn Soup too.
Another really nice touch in this series of River Cottage guides is that there is no girly dust cover to get torn but a tough manly hardback cover which I don’t think would mind too much if it got dropped in the odd rockpool. I actually think it would add to its charm!
Well done John Wright, and thank you Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall. I love it.