Mara was delighted to welcome ten students and their teachers from Saijo City High School in Southern Japan last week. The students, who are studying seaweed as part of a school research project, had come to the UK to learn about its culture and approach to seaweed.
During three days in Edinburgh, they spent a day with Mara. Co-founders Fiona and Xa greeted the students and presented a history of the company, before Technical Manager Inga lead them on a tour of the factory. It was quite a contrast to other factories they had visited, as one student noted. "I was surprised at their quality control, at every stage they had complete monitoring. There was total traceability."
“I was also excited to hear that Mara Seaweed thinks that it is important to understand the food culture of Japan when making their seaweed.”
A trip to the Botanics
After the factory tour, Mara took the students to the Royal Botanic Gardens’ Cottage, a fantastic restored community space, where they would cook lunch as part of a British-Japanese seaweed tasting session.
“We were delighted to host a cross-cultural event with Mara Seaweed and their Japanese guests. Sharing exciting new tastes and textures is a great way to explore the diversity of our coastline.’’
Ian Edwards, Public Programmes Manager at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
As part of their homework over the winter break, the students had practised seaweed dishes from Mara’s website. They prepared meals for friends and family and compared the dishes with how they normally eat seaweed.
The two most popular recipes were an avocado and radish salad by blogger Cicely Violet, and a dulse chocolate cake by Faith Bakes. The students deftly prepared both, as well as Japanese seaweed dishes. These included onigiri rice balls and temaki hand rolls, which were a beautifully prepared treat for the British guests. We were delighted to learn the word ‘oishi,’ meaning delicious, which we used at every opportunity.
Both the Botanics’ staff and team Mara were incredibly impressed with the student’s focused approach to cooking. They clearly really enjoyed it and did a great job. One student told us,
“The experience was great. Everyone found the food delicious.”
A cultural seaweed exchange
Finally, the students gave a short presentation on Saijo and its seaweed. They told us about their school and shared knowledge on Brit Kathleen Drew-Baker, known as ‘Mother of the Sea’ for her role in reviving the Japanese nori industry in the 1950s. In return, Mara’s Seaweed Manager, Rory, explained Mara’s harvesting process and shared a number of seaweed samples from around the world.
Both groups, British and Japanese, enjoyed experiencing seaweed through others’ eyes. SeaEO Fiona said,
“It was a pleasure to host the students from Saijo City and gain insight into Japanese seaweed culture. We hope one day Team Mara can make a visit to Saijo to see the industry first hand.”
Huge thanks to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh for their help in hosting the group, and for use of their images.