Adventures in UK Foraging

Wild, protected sea kale, enjoying the summer sun in Dungeness

Dungeness, England. I was very excited about our U.K. trip, not just because it was an opportunity to meet future family members and see where Owen grew up, but also for the myriad foraging opportunities. Seaside foraging? An opportunity to see where some of the weeds I love originated? Sign me up.

The first wild edible I saw was sea kale, growing on the rocky shores of Romney Marsh in Kent (midway between Dover and Dungeness). Sea kale is hearty and tough, but has a hell of a time gaining purchase in the rocky coastline; in Dungeness, this particular species (pictured) is protected and illegal to harvest. So I had to be content just to photograph it, though I couldn’t help imagining what the young shoots would taste like boiled and sauteed with garlic, onions, and bacon.

The Brits are wild about their wild food, which we soon discovered at a pub where we feasted on local lamb and wild marsh samphire. I’ve nibbled on salty samphire (Salicornia ssp.) growing along the Long Island Sound in the Bronx, but never had it in a restaurant before. We gave this particularly lovely culinary practice—serving the food that an animal would eat alongside it—a big thumb’s up: the saline succulence of the samphire married nicely with the lamb and real baby carrots. De-lish.

Marsh samphire with lamb and real baby carrots

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