Sea Green

I was shopping in Tesco for baby veggies that would go with a big fat trout (nice gift from fisherman neighbour Allan), and to my delight came across samphire. I love samphire but don’t see it very often. The only other time I remember seeing it for sale in Scotland was in Valvona and Crosamphire and crab 2lla’s, a great Italian deli in Edinburgh – not on my doorstep or, these days, in my price range. The Tesco samphire was in a ‘Three for £4’ range so I got my green beans and baby carrots too, and felt this was all pretty reasonable in price terms. My dinner guest didn’t fancy the samphire – doesn’t recognise what’s good for him – but all the more for me and I must say it was just delicious. Like a smack of sea air on a plate. I ate some lightly steamed last night with the trout, and some raw today – both great, nice and crunchy.

Samphire, according to my Food Lover’s Companion, comes from two places in the main – the UK and the US. These are slightly different varieties and it seems the American one – more often known as salicornia, apparently, is expensive because it’s rare. Well, I would have thought the British one would be rare too but I guess I just got lucky. There’s a great article in the Telegraph from two years ago, about how it’s being grown in Devon. As with so many things, gathering it poses certain dangers for the pickers. Or maybe ‘dangers’ is putting it too strongly, but certainly it’s a bit of a challenge. I’m very grateful the pickers decided to take it up.

The photo here obviously doesn’t feature the trout, but a new friend I brought back from the picnic at Tentsmuir last week – an empty crab shell, its eye sockets glaring balefully. My star sign is Cancer so I thought a crab shell discovered on my birthday would be a good thing to keep on my window ledge alongside my bits of stone from Iona and various other places. I’ve only once cooked crabs – but that’s a story for another day.

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2 thoughts on “Sea Green

  1. I love the crispy, sea tastiness of samphire. We have bought it in Pieroni’s fish shop in Ayr before. Whenever samphire is mentioned I cannot help but recite a passage from Shakespeare that I learned in Primary 7. It’s from King Lear:
    How fearful
    And dizzy ’tis to cast one’s eyes so low!
    The crows and choughs that wing the midway air
    Show scarce so gross as beetles. Halfway down
    Hangs one that gathers samphire—dreadful trade!

    Oh, the things that you remember from 50 years ago and sometimes I would struggle to tell you what I was doing yesterday!

  2. Thank you for that Marian! I’m amazed – Miss Smith had you doing King Lear in Primary 7???! Nowadays I don’t think they even do KL for Higher English. Wonder if the ‘one that gathers samphire’ was a main character in the play? And what befell him?

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