Although we love the traditions of Wales, this was asking a lot.
Sue’s cousin, Jim – who is fortunate enough to live on the glorious Gower peninsula of southern Wales – had served us breakfast of laverbread, a local delicacy that looks for all the world like boiled spinach.
Sensing our hesitation, Jim enthusiastically explained that laverbread, or bara lawr in Welsh, isn’t bread at all – but is seaweed cooked to a soft greenish-black paste and often served with bacon and eggs.
That really didn’t ease our trepidation much.
He went on to say that laverbread was a traditional breakfast for Welsh miners before a long day in the pits.
Plucked free of charge from the shores of the Pembrokeshire and Carmarthen coasts, laverbread had long been a central part of the diet of Welsh workers.
In the 1800’s, laver collection was an important cottage industry and laver huts remain on the Gower coast today.
Jim explained that the laver was thrown over the roof of the huts and left to dry before being taken by horse and cart to centres like Swansea for processing.
However, these days laverbread is a trendy health food, rich in minerals and vitamins, full of protein and low in calories – and praised by fans as “black gold”.
According to Jim, the actor, Richard Burton, once famously described laverbread as “the Welshman’s caviar”.
At this stage, we were convinced.
So what does it taste like? Well, it’s rather like porridge – a little salty, filling and slightly mushy.
But, combined with cockles, still in their shells, it isn’t bad at all. We each finished our bowl and found that it also had a subtle seafood aftertaste.
Seaweed probably won’t become a staple at our breakfast table, but we’re pleased we tried laverbread.
Like Australian Vegemite, it certainly is different – and when in Rome…!
Main photo courtesy Wikimedia and Vauliagmeni