Friday, 15 November 2013


I really do enjoy eating all seafood, fish and shellfish, but where did this fondness for fish come from, it wasn't always that way. Growing up, I didn't live terribly far from the coast, but my only introduction to fish was fish fingers or some whiting on Fridays and in early adulthood occasional fish and chips from a takeaway. A generalisation I know, but it certainly appears Irish people are for some strange reason predisposed not to eat fish and don't even suggest shellfish. Why is this when one of the greatest resources we have in Ireland is a bountiful supply of fish and shellfish. In a country that is surrounded by fish in the sea, the fish consumption is unusually low and most of our fish is exported to other countries. Understandably we export most of our seafood because there just isn't a market for it here.

I am sure if Irish people ate fish even just once a week it would double current market demand here, why we don't eat much fish is anybody's guess. Some claim it relates to the former Catholic Church ban on eating meat on Fridays. Fish somehow became known here as penitential food. Then there was also the decline of the traditional fishmonger. Bord Bia, research into attitudes to fish, suggests some answers - apparently we think fish is expensive, perishable, smelly and difficult to eat. But is this really the case?

For many people of course there's no real reason behind their dislike. Others who say they don't like fish will happily eat fish fingers, tinned tuna and salmon fishcakes. I believe a lot of fish dislike is passed down through families rather than any personal experience or having tried fish for themselves. It is understandable if people don't eat seafood because their parent's never did, because they were never introduced to it and never experienced it. Also I feel that people don't have the confidence to cook seafood!

I had fish twice this week, and my two young girls love seafood, because they were introduced to and have experienced it from a young age. In particular I enjoyed the mackerel, which is cheap, sustainable, healthy and delicious - it also evoked wonderful memories of catching and cooking mackerel on a family camping trip this summer. So my fondness for fish came from trying fish and shellfish for myself and I have never looked back. So go ahead give fish a try!

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