I’m sitting on the edge of ancient bedrock, feet dangling in the North Sea that washes Norway’s southern coast. Cold water slaps against my legs. Seaweed – red, green, bright, dark – dances in the water, twirling and spinning like lettuce in a salad spinner. Morten Michalsen reaches into the water and pulls out a wine-dark tuft. It resembles a tangle of moss. “Truffle seaweed,” he says. “Have you tried it?” I take a bite. The flavour is complex and ancient, the flavour of something long forgotten, dug up from the deep. He slips into the water and adjusts a scuba mask over his blond hair. His fins flip into the air, fluking like a whale. And then he is gone.
Michalsen is a jack-of-all-trades. Trained as a carpenter, he is also a forager, diver and handyman. Today, though, he is searching for limpets, the frilled conical shells that cling tenaciously to rocks at the shoreline, where land meets sea. They thrive at the threshold of two environments and can survive two weeks out of the water. Their teeth are among the strongest natural substance we know of, and they’re almost impossible for predators to pry off the rock. But Michalsen has a knife.