The Weed of Hiraeth (Porphyra umbilica). To MANY A SOUTH WALIAN laverbread is what a Rhine wine is to a German, or a whiff of garlic to a Frenchman: it comforts his senses and his palate, it brings back the smells his mother taught him, it soothes but at the same time sharpens his hiraeth. If we are away from home, exiled perhaps in a job, and uprooted, far from the tang of the sea and the rocks, this black sloppy mess of seaweed becomes for us a symbol of those homely things we have left behind. Now, held together with common oatmeal, it becomes a dish more delicate and desirable than any that foreign money can buy. In fact, one symptom of homesickness is an irrational and hopeless craving for a plate of bacon and bara lawr. And so indulgent parents send it in toffee tins to their Shons and Shans away in digs, American cousins and Dutch uncles keep a look-out for the weekly carton from Penclawdd and Bishopston. The solidarity of many a Welsh family throughout the world has been cemented by laverbread. It is a disillusionment after this to discover that this most distinctive Welsh food is nowadays made from imported seaweed. The rocks of Swansea and Gower still provide enough for the housewives of the Gower villages who prepare it for themselves or for Bring-and-buys at the W.I.s. But since about half-a-dozen tons are prepared and eaten every week, at home and abroad, the commercial dealers have long ago had to look elsewhere. Almost all the weed comes now from other parts: a little from Pembroke- shire, but mostly from Scotland, Ireland, and Cornwall. One old laverbread maker, who died recently, once told me the story of how his family first started getting their weed from Cornwall. When he was a young man, about fifty years ago, the problem of getting enough laver weed was already acute. A visitor to the village told his father that there seemed to be plenty of it in a little bay he knew in Cornwall, and he gave him the name of the nearest village. The next question was, how to get hold of it? Without expecting much to come out of it, his father wrote a letter to the postmaster of the village, asking him if he knew of anyone who would be interested in collecting laver weed for him and sending it to Swansea every week. As it happened there was one young fellow, out of work and desperate for a job, and when the postmaster put this suggestion to him, he decided to try his luck. He sent off the first sackful not even knowing if he was going to have any payment for it. He did of course, and that started a correspondence between the young Cornishman and the Swansea family and a regular supply of seaweed every week. Every week for fifty years.