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28 November 2021

Opinion from Adrian Leopard & Co

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Fish eating – the great British enigma
Adrian Leopard 274

Fish eating – the great British enigma

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We have so much of it and yet it is not that popular to eat

There is something really strange about the British attitude to eating fish – as a nation we just do not appear to make the best use of one of our greatest natural resources.

As a child, lunch on Friday was always fish because this was what Roman Catholics were supposed to eat – give meat a rest. Although the vast majority of the people were not Roman Catholic, nevertheless schools tended to serve fish on a Friday. It was all to do with the fact that Jesus died on a Friday and accordingly eating meat was considered inappropriate whereas eating fish, being a cold-blooded creature, was okay. This general approach changed in 1985 although many still do eat fish on a Friday instead of meat.

We rejoice in the fact that traditional fish and chips is one of the greatest meals, mainly takeaway, known to the British and yet our consumption of fish is really quite small. Unfortunately whilst fish and chips is widely available to buy, it is really very difficult to get it nicely prepared – fish is often under-done and as for the chips – I have often known them be little more than greasy soft potato fingers – yuk! One of our colleagues goes around the country looking for decent fish and chips and it is a rarity for him to leave a restaurant or pub satisfied with what they produced. How our standards have dropped.

Why do we not eat more fish? The truth is that for the majority of people, it is the supermarkets who provide the influence – were they to elevate their fish marketing we could be looking at a very different state of affairs.

Supermarkets do have fresh fish counters but really these are not common, unlike in France and Spain, for example, where the fish counters are major parts of the selling space and the variety of fish available is enormous. So why do the British not do the same? After all the British coast line is enormous and we have some of the best fish available around our coasts. Look at all the hassle over fishing rights when leaving the European Union, and yet if you want to buy decent fish on a regular basis, it is actually hard to find.

It is also not easy to find decent fish restaurants in the UK. We could do with a lot more of those.

Today it has become known that English fishermen are to change the names of two fish because they are “unloved”. The Megrim sole is now to be known as “Cornish sole” and the spider crab is to be rebranded as the “Cornish King crab”, two varieties apparently not popular in Britain but very popular with some of the export markets. Of course we have the problem at the moment that the export markets are being seriously affected with Brexit issues meaning that exporting fish to the EU is currently extremely difficult.

Another fish which exists in abundance in British waters is herring but again is not eaten as widely as it could be. And yet fish is very nice and very good for you.

One of the problems is that fresh fish is really quite expensive. The Megrim sole mentioned above can be bought online for £7.58 a fish and a fish is a portion for one. That is pricey although a national supermarket is currently selling Dover sole for around £5 a fish – very cheap for the fish but it still makes for quite an expensive dinner!

However it remains to be seen whether there will be a shift as time goes by – Britain has [still] a great fishing industry and there is plenty of fish to go around, especially if we stop sending it to those continental folk across the Channel. If we were to keep our fish for ourselves, perhaps it would start to come down in price.

But one of those Dover soles gently pan-fried in butter with just a little olive oil is absolutely delicious served with potatoes gratinées or Lyonnaises. And you could get to become proficient at filleting them as well!

Adrian Leopard 09-02-21

Photo Brian Yurasits

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Company Data

Adrian Leopard & Company is the trading name of Alderney Offshore Ltd, a company registered in Alderney, Channel Islands number 1220.

Address P O Box 1027, Alderney GY9 3AS

Registered Office Seldomin, Longis Road, Alderney GY9 3YB.

Adrian Leopard & Co is represented in the UK by 3CL (UK) Ltd trading as Adrian Leopard Associates.

Telephone enquiries may be made on 08449-4-08449 or 01684-230360.

E Mail [email protected]

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