SEA COW AND CUD
LOPEZ ISLAND, San Juans, Washington "Rush hour," someone shouts, as another kayak gang rounds the point. A dolphin scallops along the surface. I stand thigh-deep in a tidepool, chewing on slimy seaweed.
Sorry. Not "slimy": mucilaginous. Talk about onomatopoeia...
"Nothing can hurt you on this beach," Earthwalk Northwest Instructor Karen Sherwood assures us. "Let your palette be the guide."
Some of the flotsam has the protein content of lean beef. Other fronds contain 10 times more iron than spinach. Quickly I learn to avoid acid kelp (desmarestia ligulata), a coralline algae gritty on the teeth, which also bleaches clothing.
Seaweed, frankly, is much tastier after Karen, Leah and the other expert chefs have at it. They scramble seaweed into spuds. They wrap tortillas around alaria lentil spread, rich with cumin and garlic. They roll nori into lumps, then pan-fry it, native snack-style.
But the other students many involved in the ethnobotany apprenticeship feast on the beach, so I fake along. Mmmmmmm, mucilaginous goodness... I'm sure it's obvious I normally eat pizza over the sink. Fine dining was a casualty of my divorce. I can cook, but I would prefer not to, a la Bartleby the Scrivener.
Too bad the South Sound is befouled, otherwise I could just graze at Golden Gardens, the nearby beach...
Check out the full story and shots in the The Seattle Post-Intelligencer on August 23, 2007.