The end of Sp-Agretti?


Whilst mooching around on Saturday morning I was alerted that Saturday Kitchen had, with an octopus recipe, probably struck the death knell of my latest favourite ingredient.

Agretti aka barba di frate (friar’s beard) or more functionally opposite-leaved saltwort. Despite this awful name Agretti apparently had historical importance as a source of soda ash used in soapmaking and the production of Murano glass blah blah blah. I’ve been quietly purchasing it, £1.49 a bunch, from my not so-local organic supermarket for a couple of months with very little fuss, the shelves always well stocked, probably because it looks quite sandy and stringy, is tucked away with the herbs and I don’t think people knew what it was outside the M25.

It tastes like a self-seasoning spinach/samphire with a pleasant pop and crunch and at first I was a bit confused so treated it like samphire or asparagus, mainly chopping it up and hiding it in pasta and tray bakes (particularly with fish) so the kids would just get on and eat it. One day wandering around Sainsbury’s a revelation, prompted by the shelf of Courgetti and Boodles (which will always be a Manchester diamond jeweller to me), Sp-agretti. A new blend word (or portmanteau as poetically coined by Lewis Carroll), previously it was hangry because I’m often hangry when fasting, and a spankingly good tasty quick versatile and relatively low calorie dinner for a fast day. Pretty much any pasta sauce works with Agretti and its fun to eat like spaghetti, from simple tomato with a dust of parmesan through tuna, (almost) all the way to cheese and pancetta (which made me feel a bit sick).

Despite the probable Agretti availability setback, a benefit of the Octopus recipe is it made me think of Octopus. mmmmm Octopus. I love Octopus and will shortly pen an ode to this delicious cephalopod....