Thursday, July 1, 2010


It is full summer, just a week or so after the solstice. The sun is waning, though you'd never know it. It is light until almost 9 and the ocean is very warm for this time of the year. I've been busy foraging, not so attached to my computer, which actually broke for a few days and really forced me to get out in the field. Thanks to my cousin Brian for fixing my power cord and getting me back on-line. I think I learned my lesson and can be trusted not not to be too attached to being "on-line," because that's not the way the world is, right? Hardly anything, when allowed its natural course runs in a straight line. Water meanders, hills flow up and down, trees bend in the wind. It is seaweed time. I've been spending a lot of time in tidepools gathering rockweed, clinging to rocks to forage laver, and snorkelling so I can get the deepest green sea lettuce for my seaweed salad. The sea lettuce that is closer to the surface gets bleached by the sun. I like the fronds that look like emeralds. I like to dive down deep and stick my hands into crevices where there might be a conger eel. I saw one once, sliding out at dusk from a crack in the jetty. It was truly terrifying, much more so than a shark, fat and undulating underneath me as the ocean grew dark. I swam quickly back to shore that evening, glad for my friends and the fire that awaited me.

Here are a couple of photos of my bread and butter, rockweed, known medicinally as rockweed. Along with Irish moss, it is the most common seaweed in Block Island waters. It pretty much grows on every rock around the island, in the ocean and in the Great Salt Pond. Some spots are better than others for foraging. I think the best comes from the tidepools between Vaill Beach and Black Rock, and from the pools  between Black Rock and Southwest Point. It's a long bike ride to reach them, and quite a hike down the bluffs, but once I'm there I always stay hours, wandering from pool to pool, sliding across the slick weeds that adorns the rock like the long, lustrous hair of mermaids.

There are many varieties of bladderwrack, some better than others for roasting. The photo directly below showing rockweed with flat fronds is the best. Knotted wrack, in the second photo, does not roast at all well so I never pick it. It turns hard as a toothpick and is not at all pleasant to chew on. Also, I am careful to forage sustainably. I do my best not to pull the roots of the plant off the rock so that it grows back. This takes some time, but I love the way the slippery weed feels between my fingers. If you want some roasted rockweed, find me at The Farmers' Market where I will be happily pontificating on the health benefits of seaweed and the pleasures of foraging. Ah, summer is sweet, don't you agree?

This bladderwrack above is best for roasting. Make sure to pick off the periwinkles, although they are edible if you want to eat them. 

This is knotted wrack, not so good for roasting, but pleasant to look at and touch. There are large beds of this in the Garden, one of Sea Squad's favorite snorkeling spots, right across from the Beachhead.

See you in the water friends!


  1. Hi Jen,
    Love your Blog! I'll see you tomorrow!

  2. Hi,
    I found this post really interesting. How do you roast the bladderwrack, I'd like to try that myself.