Saturday, 6 June 2020

Rock Samphire

Rock Samphire Crithmum maritimum (Fr. Criste marine) is a much prized edible coastal plant throughout its distribution (but not to be confused with the unrelated Marsh Samphire Salicornia europaea which is sometimes known as Glasswort and is very trendy with fish in fancy restaurants). It is mentioned in Shakespeare, and is traditionally harvested in late May. In the past it was valuable enough to risk life and limb to get to the plants where they grew on the rocky cliffs. Once picked it would be packed in barrels with sea water and sent to the big cities.

Rock Samphire Crithmum maritima. Pyrenees-Atlantiques.  France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Rock Samphire is in the carrot family, so it is related to fennel and celery. The leaves are fleshy, and described as spicy. It is eaten pickled in vinegar or preserved in olive oil as antipasto, or fresh in salads or with fish or meat. It contains lots of vitamins and nutrients and was once given to sailors to prevent scurvy.

I photographed these plants on a beach near Biarritz when we were there last September.


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chm said...

When I was visiting an old friend in Normandy, we saw growing on the wall facing the sea a lot of plants I had never seen before and she told me they were Cristes marines. Too difficult to reach to gather some for a salad! I just took photos.

Susan said...

Yes I don't think it's really delicious enough to risk being swept out to sea trying to gather it!

Le Pré de la Forge said...

"Marsh Samphire Salicornia europaea which is sometimes known as Glasswort and is very trendy with fish in fancy restaurants"
But not in Norfolk and estuarine West Suffolk... where it is a go&getit veg for the hungry gap... used to be gathered and sold on the market stalls....but, then, there is no such thing as Rock Samphire around except the odd patch so it was just sold as Samphire... or in Cley & Wells in North Norfolk as Marsh 'Sparrowgrass...
I love it... steamed and served with butter and pepper... even the chippies used to sell it... suck it off the central stem and cast the biodegradable carrier away... then start on the chips!

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