Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Those ever so smug attacks on Mary that leave such a bitter taste

Sometimes you think being smug is fast becoming our national pastime.

That most inoffensive of cooks Mary Berry includes a recipe for shark fillets with tropical salsa and suddenly the country is awash with indignation.

How dare she include a recipe for an endangered species? Readers don't like it. Tweeters don't like it. Conservation Charity Bite-Back spokesperson Graham Buckingham definitely doesn't like it, saying: "The last thing the marine environment needs is more people asking fishmongers for shark and swordfish because Mary Berry thinks it's OK."

So outraged are the public that the publishers have now agreed to pull the recipe from future editions. Who the hell does Mary Berry thinks she is? Has she not read the latest reports from scientists? Mmm, Mary, mmm?

As usual I have to point out that wiping out sharks is not an especially good idea. In fact, it is a bad thing. The idea of shark on a plate repulses me. But Berry hasn't suggested anything illegal. Shark (in the unlikely event you actually make things in recipe books as opposed to just staring at the pictures and drooling) is freely available in the classier fishmongers throughout the land.

But what does that count when it gives us a chance to be morally superior?

Still, why stop there Tweeters and know-it-alls? What about other fish? Stocks are dwindling all over the world, so what about fish suppers on a Friday night? Or fois gras? Or veal?

And let's not even start about the ethical dilemmas presented by modern farming. Just because it's a humble chicken and not a beautiful, primeval shark doesn't mean that your Chicken Kiev isn't a moral minefield. (And, yes, I am a happy carnivore.) Mary Berry merely suggested a recipe for an exotic but not unheard-of fish, that's all. Not freshly squeezed kittens in a rustic Tuscan sauce.

When it comes to food, let those who are without sin cast the first scone ... sorry, stone.

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