Breakfast in Wales: Laver Bread and Cockles

Breakfast in Wales

When I arrived at the breakfast table in Swansea’s Morgan’s Hotel, I perused the menu and came across a combination that I had never tried before. Laver bread and cockles.

 

“How is that?” I asked the waiter.

 

“I would never eat that,” said the waiter taking my order. “But it is a tradition.” He shrugged.

 

“I’ll go with tradition,” I told him.

 

Breakfast in Wales

 

A few minutes later, he returned with my breakfast. The cockles—of the phylum mollusk—were removed from their shells and laid on the plate like dozens of organisms poorly designed for terra firma. They had two yellow legs, no vertebrae, and appeared as if they had all tipped over as they attempted escape. The laver bread was not bread. It was a puddle of boiled-down seaweed that looked like fermented yogurt that had been kept out of the refrigerator for the better part of a year.

 

The Welshman at my table looked over at my plate, as he liberally spread the yeast extract Marmite onto his bread. “I would only ever eat that with bacon and eggs,” he admitted.

 

I speared a few cockles. It tasted like most shellfish, but dissimilar to mussels or clams or oysters, the cockles lacked an essence that made them more than just a taste of the sea.

 

A few years earlier, before boarding an overnight bus from Luang Prabang in Laos to the capital city of Vientiane, I had found a bag of Mekong River Weed at the bus terminal market. The Laotian weed had garlic and tomato and spices pressed into it, none of which improved the taste of the weed. In fact, by mixing in such flavors, it made the weed more putrid, like mixing in chocolate with vomit. I spent the entire bus ride sick. While the laver bread included no bus ride, it was nearly as bad.

 

“If I was having laver bread,” the Welshman at my table said. “I would have it sliced thinly. I would have had it with bacon and eggs. I see it as more of a flavoring. Never heard of it served as a puddle before.”

 

The next morning I ordered eggs Benedict. They were delicious.

 

Photo by VIU Deep Bay

 

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Posted on by Noah Lederman in I Ate What?

6 Responses to Breakfast in Wales: Laver Bread and Cockles

  1. Matt Jayson

    Yeah laver bread is something I think even Andrew Zimmern would gag at. Glad you tried it. I would have.

  2. Sam

    Or, you can go on a diet before you get there.

  3. Marie Brown

    Well done you for trying it and going down the traditional route but no, never in a million years would I of tried either of those!

    • Noah Lederman

      Thanks Marie. I always opt for the traditional and then allow for happiness or regret to follow.

  4. Debz

    I am originally from Swansea and was brought up on Lava Bread. It was bought fresh from the market and eaten with bacon and eggs. I loved it.
    Debz recently posted…Which Tropical Island?My Profile

    • Noah Lederman

      That was recommended to me after I had my lava bread and cockles meal, but I was already scarred. Maybe next time.

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