Nourish to Flourish
Work has been an interesting rollercoaster these last couple of weeks. My personal and emotional life has been on an interesting rollercoaster of its own. I needed to connect with my first love again – the earth and her oceans. When I received wind that Roushanna Gray, founder of Veld and Sea, was visiting Jeffreys Bay for a Foraging excursion it was a no brainer. I signed up almost immediately. I have followed Roushanna since I lived in Cape Town and she is an inspiration. The experience did not disappoint and I think it is because learning from Roushanna goes much further than a single experience. It does become a lifestyle.
We started our day the right way. We all met up at the African Perfection deck to welcome the day with an incredible yoga session given to us by the kind and gentle Laura Wall from Luna Blue Yoga. It was peaceful and we were immerged in our surrounding. There was also some great waves that made for a great surf. I was feeling just a teeny tiny bit of jealousy towards the surfers taming those waves.
After a refreshing kombucha we set out to the rockpools forming the coastline underneath the African Perfection, and the harvest began. Roushanna was there every step of the way to help us and guide us and lead us. We learned that nature provides food everyday all around us but it is important to let go of our human nature and take only as much as we need for today.
We had some big waves despite the low tide and getting soaked was a given. We stumbled onto so many things. It is the first time I ate a sea urchin while standing with my feet in the ocean. It is salty and creamy and delicious, but to be completely honest, so little that I would not kill a living creature just to tantalize my senses. Non the less, a great amuse-bouche of what was to follow. We gathered limpets, periwinkles, and mussels. I struggled to explain what a winkle is to one of the other foragers because I only knew them then by their Afrikaans name, Alikreukel.
We then set off to the dunes where we learned about dune spinach, dune parsley, tick berries, African sage, the nectar of aloe flowers and so much more. Dune spinach I found particularly interesting because you can use it raw or cooked and it is just bloody delicious. By the way the photos are a combination of my own, Chezanne‘s and Roushanna’s.
I will say, having grown up on a farm, it was a strange thing to get my head around harvesting something you haven’t planted, haven’t worked and sweat for and haven’t prayed for rain for. It was an odd sensation and at the beginning it felt like I am taking something that doesn’t belong to me, but I guess that is the wonder that is nature and our earth. She will always look after us, provide for us, as long as we look after her. Educate those around us about sustainability and fight for her. Protect her as we would ourselves.
Cooking up a storm
Back at the African Perfection deck the learning and the experience did not end. Now it was a different type of teaching all together. How we clean our harvest, how we prep our harvest and how we cook our harvest. I can in all honesty say I have eaten at a lot of five star restaurants and nothing came close to this. Maybe we were just hungry, maybe it is because nowhere else will you eat seafood this fresh, maybe it was just a deeper appreciation for where our meal came from.
We had limpet ceviche, tempura seaweed, seaweed bread, hummus with seaweed, seaweed butter, we had winkles, edible flower sushi and a Thai style mussel pot on the fire. There were no idle hands. Everyone helped with our meal and we paired it with fynbos gin cocktails and num-num berry syrup. It was a feast fit for kings and queens.
Delightful. That is the only word I can think off to explain how wonderful it was exploring our coastline and learning about our wildly delicious and abundant natural ingredients. It was also important to learn about sustainability and how its our obligation to look after the ocean and its shores. Sometimes problems feels too big and to complicated for a single person to make a difference, but that is myth. If you feel passionate about something your contribution and passion does make a difference. The fire that it lights in the hearts of the people around you makes a difference. Their actions and habit changes makes a difference.
Everything that was not size or might have been excess got put back into the ocean. Everything else got used to its full extend with no wastage.
Let’s talk about the magic of seaweed for a moment. One thing that Roushanna said that stuck with me is that we so often think of seaweed as a weed, but in all honesty it is actually a vegetable. Did you know that you can eat almost every single seaweed, and those that we cannot eat does not grow in Jeffreys bay so win! It does not surprise me that it is an increasingly popular ingredient being used across the world. Even in my little town, Cape St Francis, seaweed farming is a growing business venture. That is why it is so important to understand and enjoy it to its function and benefit, but also educate ourselves on the impact it has on the larger picture and micro and macro ocean life that depends on it.
Roushanna shared fantastic recipes and reading material with us as well and it has been a joy getting stuck into this whole new world. I am lucky to have a dad that bleeds sustainability and loves the ocean. Breakfast was always shellfish or fresh fish that he shot on his early morning spearfishing hunt. Combining those teachings with Roushanna’s teachings has impacted my life greatly. How I perceive the ocean and the earth and how I want to live in it.
New Sustainable Forager