Telly show angle inspires pupils to have fish as dish

Skye Gibbs, Nyiah Clark and Callum Clark get their hands on a conger eel
Skye Gibbs, Nyiah Clark and Callum Clark get their hands on a conger eel
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THEIR parents would have gorged on mince, tatties and stodgy gravy as part of their staple school diet.

But this week children across north Edinburgh were handed the chance to widen their lunchtime menu – by taking part in a fish-themed Come Dine With Me experience.

With the help of the local fishmonger, youngsters sampled various seafood dishes, including mackerel, smoked trout and crab, then rated them out of ten.

Officials running the Seafood in Schools theme will examine the results before suggesting which fish could be put on the menu permanently.

Three primaries – Victoria in Newhaven, Wardie and Trinity – were visited yesterday and shown not only the various dishes, but how to gut fish, their nutritional value and the facts behind their existence.

Victoria P6 teacher Janet Avery said: “You can see all the kids are so interested.

“At the start of the presentation they were halfway down the gym hall and before too long they were practically climbing on the tables.

“Can you imagine if I was just sitting in the classroom reading out facts about fish? I’d have no chance.

“The fact that schools here are in former fishing communities helps as well.”

It is hoped exposing the pupils to different foods at a young age will help not only their own diet, but encourage parents to buy seafood for family meals.

The Lothians has one of the worst records of childhood obesity in Scotland, with poor eating habits at the heart of the cause.

Food technician Catriona Frankitti, a co-ordinator for the Seafood in Schools project, said: “It’s fascinating watching the children go through the samples and give us their opinion.

“Basing it on a television programme like Come Dine With Me makes it better for them to understand as well.”

She said that mussels were overwhelmingly the most popular choice amongst Edinburgh youngsters, while trout was also popular because it seemed “like a mix between meat and bacon, nothing new”. Mackerel and trout received around a 50 per cent approval rating.

Ms Frankitti added: “The most important thing is every child who took part said they had tried something they’d never had before.”

At Victoria Primary, 24 youngsters queued up to try the samples, which had been laid on by the local Welch fishmongers.

Pupils Mhari Thomson and Matthew Harkins, both ten, were among those taking part. Matthew said: “I knew a bit about fish before, but not as much as I do now.”

Mhari added: “It was great to touch them and smell them, I really like fish now.”

Fishmonger Clare Welch said: “For us it’s about getting involved in our community.”