The fabled Patagonia region of Argentina beckons visitors seeking adventure and the mystique of a place that is now emblazoned on the logo of a brand-name clothing outfitter.
But for Jane Teas of Columbia, South Carolina, a December 2009 trip to Argentina was a chance to learn more about seaweed harvesting.
Teas uses Argentine seaweed in her own research on dietary uses of this product of the world's waters, so she had a particular interest in seeing its origins.
The best place to experience seaweed harvesting is in the area around Bahia Bustamante, a seaweed village that is now open as a tourist ranch resort. During her time there, Teas visited the seaweed processing plant in the town of Gaiman.
"We saw seaweed, the seaweed harvesting location, the seaweed processing plant," Teas said. "We stayed at Bahia Bustamante where the seaweed is harvested. It is also an eco-tourism retreat and is gorgeous."
Bahia Bustamente was once known as "Rotten Bay" for all of the seaweed that washed up there. A Spanish visitor named Don Lorenzo Soriano arrived in Patagonia in 1953 seeking to use seaweed ingredients for the production of hair gel. He established a seaweed-harvesting village there, which claims to be the first of its kind in the world, and it's now open to visitors.
The location is picturesque and home to all sorts of wildlife and birds including penguins. Teas delighted in the setting, and the creatures.
"We saw penguins, seals, Rhea birds and guanacos - sort of deer-like creatures," she wrote. "The water was very cold, but we did briefly try swimming with the penguins."
Seeing where seaweed - including dietary seaweed - comes from is one of the main attractions in Bahia Bustamente, and the thing that has brought fame to this part of the Patagonian coast.
Travelers come to see the beaches awash in seaweed, and the methods to harvest it: by taking it off the land, by diving into the water and by launching nets.
Teas says she eats seaweed in capsule form as a dietary supplement, but also knows of people who make seaweed cookbooks. One such person is Prannie Rhatigan, a friend of hers who lives in Ireland and is author of a western-palate-friendly seaweed cookbook. The Irish coast is also a seaweed-harvesting hot spot.
Turns out, there's lots of ways to make seaweed part of your diet. Rhatigan's seaweed cooking guides discuss how to include the greens of the deep in foods like salads and soups, as well as incorporate them into pasta dishes and baked goods. Many people may also be familiar with seaweeds from dishes like sushi and Japanese seaweed salads.
Teas says she is fascinated with the possible health benefits of seaweed and studies the ways it differs from land plants.
"Many people consider the minerals in seaweed to be like an all-natural vitamin pill," she says.
Are you a fan of seaweed cooking? We'd love to hear from you. And if you've been to Argentina and Patagonia, we're curious what you would recommend and what you've enjoyed. Share what you think a traveler should eat, and any food-related adventures you've had in the comments area below.
CNN's Destination Adventure series takes a look at great places for eager explorers. Each week, we'll feature favorite regional foods, secrets from the locals and the best photos and stories from readers. Have you been to Patagonia or Argentina? Share your story with CNN iReport. And next week, we'll journey to Morocco.
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