I recently had to kill an hour in Borough Market in London. That situation is not among life's hardships. In fact, several hours have been known to have expired while I whiled away an afternoon among the vegetable, cheese, and meat stalls. Apparently in business since at least 43AD (but who's counting?), Borough is the market to beat all markets -- at least in England. The great markets of Italy might give it a run for its money.
So what to do when you have sampled the cheeses, eaten several kinds of sandwiches, tasted boar and ostrich sausage (not together), and been educated about the different varieties of sea salt (is there a marine version of terroir)? Clearly, one's only option is to shop. So shop I did.
I picked up bags of luscious cherry tomatoes, boxes of strawberries and raspberries, some arugula and mizuna, a few avocados, some shrimp, asparagus, morels and a few other things that weighed down my bag. Having exhausted the seasonal and typical delights, and down to my last few pound coins, I stumbled upon an extremely seasonal but atypical British delicacy: samphire.
This succulent resembles a small cactus and grows in the marshland near the ocean. Crunchy, bright green and briny, it is both earthy and out of this world. Seems like the sort of thing the Celts would have eaten back in 43AD, unless they were being invaded by the Roman hordes (in which case boar sausage would have been more filling).
Samphire, shrimp, grapefruit and avocado salad
1 medium grapefruit
1 medium avocado
10 peeled, deveined and cooked shrimp
handful of samphire, blanched for 1 minute
juice from grapefruit
1 T. ground nut or other neutral oil
1 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. rice wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. fish sauce
Section grapefruit over a strainer placed over the salad bowl to catch the juices. Squeeze excess juice from grapefruit skin when finished. Pit, peel and slice avocado. Mix grapefruit juice with remaining dressing ingredients, adjusting to taste.
Mix grapefruit, avocado, shrimp and samphire with dressing. Serve chilled.