Treasures from the Pulsing Sea
by Anne-Marie Fryer
Most of the earth’s surface is bathed in salty, mineral-rich ocean water. The coastline where sunlight is able to penetrate the water provides the richest area for plant growth in temperate climates.
There ‘the grasses of the sea’, also called sea vegetables, grow in abundance. These plants are ancient and relatively simple in their development. They produce no seeds, fruits or flowers. Their fronds are undifferentiated plants, held and supported by the buoyancy of the ocean water. On land the buoyancy of invisible cosmic forces, which create the upward striving and outspreading gestures of each plant, undeniably hold the land vegetables up-right against gravity. Sea vegetables, on the other hand, are more influenced by the forces of the earth than the plants growing in the field. They collapse without the buoyancy and support of the life sustaining ocean water.
The constantly changing moving ocean and the rhythmical daily rise and fall of the sea level dominate the life of all ocean plants. They live in and of the pulsing rhythm of the mineral-rich water. Wave after wave; tide after tide toss these ocean plants to and fro. In this demanding environment these sea vegetables develop tremendous strength, flexibility, persistence and adaptability. No wonder many cultures included small amounts of sea vegetables in their diet to encourage these qualities in themselves.
Most sea vegetables live attached and anchored to solid rocks. Sea vegetables are not the easiest to harvest. They grow in wet, slippery places. The fronds have to be foraged when the tide is low, often in the cold spring or autumn morning. When my husband and I lived in the northern part of Norway, we had the most incredible experiences harvesting sea vegetables. Dressed very warm in waders we walked out into the receding tide and reverently collected these small ocean treasures. As crabs scurried to find a hiding place for a few hours during ebb tide, we reached out to cut the sea vegetables from the rocks. Standing with these ocean plants in our hands we could feel the powers of the majestic ocean. Strongly influenced by the moon, the ocean seemed to have concentrated its life forces into these little simple plants. Almost all minerals and fibers, they were so powerfully attached to their environment it was impossible to separate them from the rocks without a sharp knife. Right there we understood the reasons the northern coastal societies valued this hardy, strengthening food so much.
Purchase a package of wakame or alaria sea vegetable. Soak it in a bowl of water. After a few minutes unfold the fronds and observe how the plant moves beautifully and gracefully with the water. Notice how the plant collapses when you pull it out of the water.
Sea salt is another treasure harvested naturally from the mighty ocean. We do not think of sea salt as a food but actually it is a very precious ingredient in today’s cooking. It is remarkable that only sun drying creates real natural sea salt with its abundance of rich minerals and trace elements. Although trace minerals are very minute they have an extreme importance in our diets.
Ocean water is saturated with cosmic and earthly forces, activities and rhythms. As sea salt is dried by the sun it condenses the essences and processes from the life-permeated sea into the substances we know as sea salt. Natural sea salt is a hardened, solidified, crystallized substance. Re-dissolve the sea salt in water and observe that the physical, solid shapes of these substances completely disappear. They are no longer visible or tangible. The sea salt has selflessly given itself to the water and permeated it through and through. The condensed mineral processes have become available and active again in water. Naturally dried sea salt, ‘the flowers of the waves’ as referred to by early alchemists, is a treasure containing hidden powers of cosmic origin.
Winter Squash and Sweet Potato Medley
These sweet vegetables are cooked for a long time with little water and a dash of salt. The salt, kombu and cooking method create a sweet, flavorful and strong dish. Many enjoy the peel of squash and sweet potato, so leave it on if it is tender, or use the peel in soup stocks.
2 cups winter squash cut in chunks
1 cup sweet potato cut in chunks
3 inches kombu (optional) cut into strips about 1/4 inch wide
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce
Place the squash and sweet potato in a pot on top of the kombu. Add water and salt and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add tamari soy sauce, place the lid back on and gently shake the pot a couple of times. Simmer for 2 minutes.
If any liquid is left in the pot, take off the lid. Cook until all flavors and liquids are absorbed. Serve the kombu, seasoned with dashes of tamari soy sauce, with the squash and sweet potatoes.
Anne-Marie Fryer Wiboltt is a Waldorf class and kindergarten teacher, biodynamic farmer, author and nutritional counselor. She has taught nutritional cooking and counseled for 25 years in her homeland Denmark, Europe and the United States.
She trained as a macrobiotic cooking teacher and counselor and studied the principles of oriental medicine and the research of Dr. Weston A. Price before embracing the anthroposophical approach to nutrition, food and cooking.
Study with Anne-Marie at the Wise Woman School! ~ Learn More ~