Known in Spain as “el chef del mar” or “the chef of the sea,” Ángel León had encountered the seagrass known as Zostera marina countless times during his life, but in 2017 (the same year he won his third Michelin star at his restaurant, Aponiente), he decided to look at how it could be used in the culinary world. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he found that an Indigenous group—the Seri people, who are from the Gulf of California in Sonora, Mexico—had long based much of their diet on Zostera marina, “a clutch of tiny green grains clinging to the base of the eelgrass.” Renowned for his clever and creative use of seafood, “fashioning chorizos out of discarded fish parts and serving sea-grown versions of tomatoes and pears at his restaurant,” León was determined to add it to his menu somehow. With a goal to serve “everything that has no value in the sea” and to introduce more people to “understanding the sea as a garden,” León and his team continue testing it in various ways—from grinding it into flour to cooking it like rice. Ultimately, they hope their research and testing results in harnessing “the plant’s potential to boost aquatic ecosystems, feed populations and fight the climate crisis.” He says, “In the end, it’s like everything. If you respect the areas in the sea where this grain is being grown, it would ensure humans take care of it. It means humans would defend it.” Read more at The Guardian.
Image courtesy of Álvaro Fernández Prieto/Aponiente