In Japan Kathleen Drew-Baker’s (1901-1957) work is celebrated on April 14th, yesterday, where she is hailed as the “Mother of the Sea”. She was a phycologist ... a person who studies algae, including seaweeds and who spent much of her academic life at Manchester University.
Her studies were recognised in Japan and she is credited with revolutionising the Japanese nori culture (edible seaweed) through artificial seeding techniques.
For hundreds of years fishermen who lived in isolated communities used seaweed as part of their staple diet ... in Cornwall, Devon, Wales and Ireland the tradition of eating fresh laver (a type of seaweed) and making laverbread has continued.
Richard Burton has been attributed as describing laverbread as “Welshman’s caviar” ...
|Fresh Welsh Laverbread|
Over 650 varieties of seaweed grow around the UK of those about 35 have been used for food ... once again the artisan-entrepreneurs are opening those doors for us to benefit from its natural attributes.
Among the varieties that grow around our Sussex shoreline are Sea Lettuce which has a soft delicate flavour; Dulse which has traditionally been added to bread; Mosses which can be added to salads or soups, and Sea Spaghetti which is great as a stir fried vegetable.
Seaweed contains protein along with valuable trace minerals, vitamins and iodine ... today scientific research has shown that iodine in the air from seaweed can be absorbed through the skin and lungs ... so the Victorian maxim of “taking the sea air” had some truth in it.
Most of us may only be familiar with seaweed through eating Sushi or Chinese crispy seaweed (often made from vegetables). But in Japan the health benefits from seaweed are taken seriously ... many Japanese mothers would not dream of sending their children off to school without their daily lunchbox containing some seaweed.
Before the Mother of the Sea’s research ... seaweed was known as the “gambler’s harvest” because it was impossible to predict when the sea green would be available ... Drew-Baker overcame that challenge ... earning her honorary title ‘Mother of the Sea’
That is M for ‘Mother of the Sea’ ... Kathleen Drew-Baker
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