Yachting Monthly's Literary contributor, Julia Jones leaves through the pages of For the Love of the Sea and finds a fascinating anthology of local British seafood
‘We are lucky to live in an island that enjoys such a diverse array of food,’ writes Jenny Jefferies in the preface to her book For the Love of the Sea.
‘Let’s embrace that while protecting nature and thinking of our future generations.’
For the Love of the Sea is a book with a mission. Jefferies has collected 41 expert contributors to share their passion for British seafood, its local heritage and sustainability.
Local is a key concept – I’d love to visit the 75-year-old Pengelly’s fishmongers, a family-run business on the quay at Looe in Cornwall.
I know about Richard Haward’s Mersea Island oysters founded in Essex in 1732 and I’d love to see the Pembrokeshire scallop divers proving equally long lasting.
They’re based in the Pembrokeshire Marine National Park.
‘We had always wondered why no one had done scallop diving here: cold and bloody hard work is your answer.
‘We are still the only company in Wales who hand-dive for scallops.
‘We had to learn a crazy amount of stuff before we could sell anything, but here we are, nearly six years later!’
All the companies and individuals represented in this book express their passion for sea food and their commitment to what they do.
They also suggest delicious recipes.
These include the exotic (Salmon en croute with Spicy Date Paste) the niche (Laverbread and Cockle Fritters) and the classic (Newlyn Hake and Onions).
I found myself especially intrigued by the different uses of seaweed:
- ‘Garlicky Sea Spaghetti Tagliatelle with Crispy Dulse’ from Cornwall.
- There were ‘Mussels with Seaweed’ from the Scottish Association for Marine Science
- and a delicious sounding ‘Caramelised Onion Tart with Scillonian Crawfish, Rock Samphire and Chive Hollandaise’ from the Star Castle Hotel at St Mary’s.’
The hardship of fishing is not glossed over and there’s resentment at the amount of landings immediately packed away for export – a contentious issue for which domestic food choices must share some blame as well as the tangles of post-Brexit bureaucracy.
Many contributors share a determination to convince even the least confident cook that fish cookery need not be hard.
‘There’s a YouTube guide for everything,’ says cruising yachtsman Michael Wright, after dressing his first crab.
I found it moving and inspirational – and how often does one say that about a cookbook?
(Part of the profits will be donated to RNLI).
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