It is used as food in parts of Europe, such as France and Italy, where it is known as a sea violet or sea fig.
All species of Microcosmus are edible, but it is mainly M. sabatieri which is marketed. In the Mediterranean, it is eaten raw, often with an acidic condiment such as lemon juice or vinegar with shallots. It has a strong iodine taste which not all appreciate.
Plants of the family Aizoaceae, the genus Carpobrotus, are also known as 'sea fig' in the Mediterranean.
Fishmongers in the Mediterranean also use the following names:
- Violet or Viourlet
- Biju ou Bijut ou Bichu
- Patate de mer
- Stronzi di mare. Referring to Sea cucumbers, echinoderms from the class Holothuroidea (Liguria)
- Limone di mare (Italy)
- Carnummole (Campania)
- Fouska (Greece)
- Morsko jaje (litt. "sea egg" (Croatia)
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