Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian


A Fish By Any Other Name is Still a Bloody Fish

You’ve heard of A Fish Called Wanda (and, if you’re an insomniac like me, probably seen it a billion times thanks to the BBC’s cut-price ‘twilight programming’ too), but how about A Fish Called Colin?

Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s has sexed-up the humble pollack after carrying out consumer research that revealed many customers were too embarrassed to ask for it at the fish counter.

Now I can understand being embarrassed about asking for Anusol or Vagisil (especially at the fish counter) but pollack? Is it because it sounds a bit like ‘bollock’, or because it’s the kind of fish my Mum used to feed the cat when we couldn’t afford Whiskas?

At first I thought it was an April Fool’s joke; giving a fish a makeover and renaming it Colin, pronounced Co-lan, in order to persuade more people to buy it? Surely not.



Pollack: I shun thee at the fish counter

Pollack: I shun thee at the fish counter

Co-lan sounds far too similar to colon, the storage tube for our ‘solid waste’. You might as well just call it Arse Tube Fish and be done with it.

Then again, I suppose the more literary fish buyers amongst us can amuse themselves by asking for a semi-colin if they want only half a fish.

Sainsbury’s hope the makeover will highlight sustainable sourcing and protect dwindling fish stocks – that’s the fish in the sea, not Oxo cubes – while reminding customers that there’s more to the fish counter than cod and haddock.


Colin: Fancy coming round to my place for dinner?

Colin: Fancy coming round to my place for dinner?

Personally, I have been protecting dwindling fish stocks for decades, on the basis that I’d rather lick pollution-flecked nettles on a motorway verge than eat a fish.

Although it seems impossible to believe now, there was once a time when I ate meat with incredible, carnivorous enthusiasm.

As a young flesh eater I ate the very meatiest of meat: really well-hung pheasant – I refer to the technique of preserving game, not the pheasant’s phallus  – rabbit, veal and oxtail.

The meatier it was, the more I liked it.

Even at my bloodiest, however, I couldn’t be persuaded to willingly eat a fish, unless it was heavily coated in orange breadcrumbs, endorsed by a kindly sea captain and rendered tasteless thanks to copious quantities of ketchup.

This was, in part, due to my mother’s insistence on serving some fish whole, their heads intact and their opaque, baked eyes staring accusingly up at me from my plate. And the bones, dear God the bones: it was like eating a box of haunted matches.

Giving up eating meat was a small price to pay for knowing I’d never have to eat fish again; in fact the moment I grasped the concept of vegetarianism (“you mean they never have to eat tuna? Sign me up!”) I became one.

My family have no such qualms, even though – up until recently when ‘Survivor’ turned up his tiny fins and was despatched to heaven via the toilet – we actually owned fish as pets.

I never understood their logic. We have cats too, but if I’d tried to serve them a roasted one of those for dinner, I feel confident there would have been protests. Bloody hypocrites.

Time alone will tell whether the Fish Formerly Known As Pollack, complete with its hilarious ‘Jackson Pollock’ inspired packaging, will enjoy renewed popularity, or indeed some form of popularity whatsoever, with its new sexy moniker.

It reminds me of that tiresome Norwich Union advertisement in which fabulously wealthy celebrities (Bruce ‘Walter’ Willis, Alice ‘Vincent Furnier’ Cooper, Ringo ‘Richard Starkey’ Starr etc etc) took the Aviva dollar to ask the public if they’d have been quite so famous if they’d kept the names they were given at birth.

With this in mind, I suggest Sainbury’s commissions its own advertisements: “Ask yourself this: would Pollack Firth have gotten to play Mr Darcy?”

**** An apology. I know the above is horribly Anglicised, and if you’re from across the Pond/continent some of it may mean nothing. Then again, most of what I write means nothing, so perhaps you won’t have noticed. Do you lot have pollack? It’s a kind of really shit fish, if you hadn’t worked that out already. And you know who Colin Firth is, right? He’s a posh actor, the kind of man that makes people who aren’t British think we’re all really self-effacing and charming and go around apologising all the time. Which is what I’m doing right now. More to the point, this column is tomorrow’s newspaper column, so I’m short-changing you there, too. I’m off to don my hair shirt in penitence. ****


Slow cooked beef with pearl barley, leeks and a jus of bitter tears

This recipe comes to you straight from the mad scientist’s laboratory and has been tentatively tested on human subjects. As I write, they’re all still alive, at least I think they are, I’m the first one up.

Slow cooked beef


Some beef from Aldi – cut off the really gristly bits and feed to cat
Some pearl barley – pre-cooked for ten minutes to avoid costly dental bills
Various unidentified green things from the bottom of the fridge – I used leeks, peppers, mushrooms, mini sweetcorn and some ancient garlic
A stock cube
A tin of minestrone soup
Bitter tears (optional)

1)    Wake up extra early so that you can prepare the ingredients for the slow-cooked meal you plan to serve tonight.
2)    Marvel at the fact that a ‘time-saving’ dish can take so bloody long to prepare.
3)    Take beef out of fridge and cut into bite-size chunks. Freak out when blood from beef packet leaks over pyjamas, squeal like schoolgirl, sponge most of blood off chest and carry on.
4)    Chop up vegetables and fry until al dente.
5)    Become increasingly resentful that you are slaving over a hob full of bubbling saucepans when you could be drinking tea and watching breakfast television.
6)    Fend off complaints from family that house smells like soup kitchen. Reassure them that tonight, it will all be worth it. Attempt to inject at least 10 times more feeling into this assurance than you would normally.
7)    Throw all ingredients into slow cooker.
8)    Realise you have lost the instructions for the cooker and decide to guess (a) what temperature to set the cooker to (b) how long to cook the meal for.
9)    Repeat the phrase: ‘DO NOT TOUCH THE SLOW COOKER, IT IS HOT’ at least 93 times during the day.
10)    Forget slow cooker is hot, burn self while trying to lever the last few slices of bread out of the bread bin. Dress wound.
11)    Eight hours after stove-slaving, serve up what could euphemistically be described as ‘peasant fayre’. Partner says: ‘this is new territory. You can’t blame me if I hate it and don’t eat it’.
12)    Before anyone gets the chance to sneer, package leftovers into tub and put in freezer to serve to family on a day when they have pissed you off more than normal.
13)    Quickly leave house on ‘errand’ to avoid post-meal analysis.

While everyone else ate pastoral mulch, I made myself a vegetarian sausage casserole which was delicious and took around seven hours and 15 minutes less time to make than the above.

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