National Geographic : 1972 Jul
sorrel soup, the trimmings included a salad, cooked cattail hearts, and stewed fruit-raspberries, gooseberries, and rose hips. The nighttime low tide had so fascinated our group that we rose to meet it again next morning. Since it would arrive 42 minutes later than it had the previous night, we could tarry in our sleeping bags until nearly 4 a.m. Watching my young crew, I was touched to see their reverence toward living in nature's way. Though urchins, mussels, and whelks covered the bottom by the thousands, the youngsters were careful to take only what we could use and to disturb the beds as little as possible. When they turned over a rock, looking for crabs, they replaced it so that the teeming life colony that exists under every littoral rock could go on undisturbed. Walking along the upper shore, they were careful to step on none of the spray-area plants that had been feeding us so well. NEXT MORNING David said, a bit longingly, "You haven't forgotten, Euell, that Cheri will be joining us day after tomor row?" Cheri is David's wife. I hadn't forgotten, and I had plans. We would welcome her with a wild party-a feast of all the better wild foods we had tried. With eight connoisseurs to feed, this meant starting at once to collect ingredients. Since both low tides now occurred in daylight, Charlie, David, Freda, and I chugged to another little island in search of edible seaweeds and found dulse and edible kelp (Alaria esculenta) avail able by the ton. Carefully removing the gritty holdfasts that anchored the seaweeds to the rocks, we acquired a bushel of each. I was glad then that we had allowed ourselves two days to pre pare our feast, because trying to eat dulse or kelp fresh from the water is like chewing on a salted rubber band. When sun-dried for four hours to two days, depending on the heat of the sun, they become tender and delicious. On the day of the wild feast, I arose alone at dawn to collect the sea creatures we would need. My most urgent and surprising order from the crew was for clams. Despite the quantities of this shellfish we had been eating, everybody still clamored for clams and more clams. I dug a surfeit of them, then went on to gather mussels, whelks, and sea urchins. Our guest arrived in the early afternoon by lobster boat. Cheri showed the right spirit from the start. The lobsterman, Ivan Olson, had found more large Jonah crabs than lobsters in his pots. When he started to throw the crabs back, Cheri had asked for them as her contribution to the wild-food supply. The great feast took shape. Charlie and Mark returned from fishing with a good catch of fat Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scom brus), in my opinion the tastiest fish of these or almost any other waters. Sara and Freda contrived two pies from wild gooseberries and mountain cranberries, decorated with ripe raspberries. All after noon we dreamed up new dishes and then created them. Finally we carried the whole feast out onto the rocks. We ate, and ate, and ate, until darkness closed in. For hors d'oeuvres we had raw urchin roe and whelks boiled in seawater. Then came a varied seafood platter starring mackerel so fat that I panbroiled the slices without adding any oil whatever. We put away the stacks of mackerel joyously, with steamed clams, steamed mussels, and crabs boiled with bayberry leaves. As accompaniment Freda had concocted a grand salad of orach leaves, glasswort, pun gent sea-rocket leaves, sour sheep sorrel, cucumber-flavored leaves VACCINIUMVITIS-IDAEA Mountain cranberries, too acid to nibble raw, make a taste tempting sauce when cooked with sugar. MYRICAPENSYLVANICA Bayberry leaves go into the steamer to enhance seafood's flavor, or into the kettle for fragrant tea.