Skull Gang Foraging Club: Seafood STI’s
The oysters in Whitstable have herpes.
We had come for their oysters. Apparently Whitstable oysters are some of the best in the world. The only oysters on sale were Irish ones. Ireland is a long way from Kent. We were told that oyster herpes can’t be passed on to humans, and that the infected specimens show no outward sign of the illness. Still, who wants to eat a slimy chunk of venereal disease, even if there are no sores on its oyster bits? We decided to branch out.
The British coast is full of wild food, from leafy greens to salty seaweed. Most of it could even pass an STI check.
The sun had been out all morning. It was nowhere to be seen by the time we arrived. The wind had picked up, strong and cold and sharp. Thick, threatening clouds hid behind hills and tall buildings. They stayed there until we had gone too far to turn back. They rejoiced as they joined forces above us, and spat wet ice at our foreheads. The beautifully decrepit old trawlers rocked gently in their deep, protected harbour, mocking us. The waves leapt at us like horrible little dogs with foaming mouths and bulging eyes. We found something to eat almost immediately.
The rocky beach was covered with clumps of Sea Beet. Sea Beet is common all over the country, growing on the upper shore of most beaches. It has bright green, almost Spinach-y leaves (Perpetual Spinach is pretty much just Sea Beet, and Chard and Beetroot are close relatives), and a thick, swollen root. The best parts of Sea Beet are the new, lighter coloured leaves, but the Beetroot-like stem can be eaten as well. Vikings ate Sea Beet.
The next plant we found, Sea Kale, is a little less common. Apart from the curly, crinkled leaf, Sea Kale has more in common with Cabbage than cultivated Kale. It is a thick, rubbery looking Avatar plant. It can grow up to 2 metres in diameter, and is found almost exclusively on pebbled beaches. The leaves and stems are purple to green, darkening as they get older. The young, tender shoots and leaves are what you want. As they mature they become more unpalatable, like squishy rubber. They taste like broccoli.
Then we found Nori. Or Laver if you want to be British about it, but this is the shit they use to wrap up Sushi. It grows everywhere, all the time. It can be found hanging from rocks and piers (ours was on a boat ramp) like wet hankies. It consists of a single, stretchy membrane. Kind of what you would expect Nori to look like. To make it into proper Nori you will need to blend the seaweed together with a good amount of water, then dry the resultant slurry on those bamboo sushi mats. Or just wrap it around things raw.
We got loads of mussels too. But they probably have AIDS, so we put them back.