I'm back on Scilly and rain is falling hard from the west. The air smells of wet grass and everywhere I walk mud splatters on to the back of my jeans. The camellias in the garden have turned a muddy brown, burnt by the wet spring. The first visitors are wrapped in oilskins braving the downpour. I'm sitting at the kitchen table leafing through a book which I've borrowed off a work colleague. John Wright's "Edible Seashore" is packed full of exciting recipes for plants I can find right at the bottom of the garden.
I've always loved the smell of rock samphire. When we were little our favourite game was playing "shops" by the rocks by the quay. The tops of the rocks were covered with tiny bushes of rock samphire which smell like a combination of liquorice and peas. We used to pick it and "sell" it to each other as banana or beans. It only grows at the top of rocks. In the book John Wright tells the story of some shipwrecked sailors who swam to rocks and tried to decide whether to swim to shore or to stay on the rocks until morning when they would be rescued. One spotted rock samphire and realised the sea would never cover that part of the rock so they clung to the rocks knowing the rocks wouldn't be submerged. Anyway I digress....I love the smell of rock samphire...I often grab a handful when I get home just to breath in its smell and it reminds me of being seven again with tangley hair and bare feet.
Pickled Samphire.....(Makes one small jar)
300ml cider vinegar
sliced zest of 1 lemon
1 bay leaf
70g rock samphire
1 tbsp olive oil
Wash the samphire. In a pan put the lemon, vinegar, bay leaf and sugar. Bring to the boil and reduce on a low heat for 10 minutes.