Seafood surprise: could rebranding this ugly fish as ‘Cornish sole’ make brits eat it?

Megrim is caught in abundance off the coast of Cornwall, but until now has been much more popular in Spain than the UK. It’s hoped a new name might change all that

Name: Cornish sole.

Age: Quite new. But actually not new.

Intriguing. Is it like northern soul, but from the south-west? No, but it’s good to get the inevitable sole/soul punnage out of the way early.

So it’s a fish. Looks horrid. Not at all. They love it in Spain.

They’re welcome to it in Spain. Cornish sole, you say? Why haven’t I heard of it before? It’s possible you might have known it as a megrim. Same species, Lepidorhombus whiffiagonis, new name.

No, still never heard of it. To be fair, although it is caught in abundance off the coast of Cornwall, 95% has been exported, mostly to Spain – until now.

Ah, yes, I’ve heard exporting fish to Europe isn’t quite the slippery-smooth process it once was. So someone has changed this fish’s name? The Cornish Fish Producers Organisation, no less. They consulted consumers, buyers and restaurant owners who said the name was putting British people off. “There’s this negative thing with megrim – it’s a ‘grim’ connotation”, said the CFPO’s chief executive, Paul Trebilcock.

And Paul might know a thing or two about off-putting names. But do they really think that just by changing its name, it is suddenly going to become acceptable to the British palate? Well, it worked with pilchards.

Eurgh. No one eats pilchards any more, do they? Not since 1957. No, but you love a Cornish sardine, don’t you? Very Mediterranean, grilled on the barbecue, with a nice pinot grigio.

Mmmm. Hang on, you’re not going to tell me they’re the same fish? Exactly. Rebranded in the 1990s. They’re going to do the same with spider crab, too. “We are trying to properly understand the barriers to people in this country eating it,” said Trebilcock.

Could it be that they look like massive armoured sea spiders? Possibly. Anyway, they’re also 85% exported (Spain again) – harder now because of extra paperwork and border checks.

Yeah, thanks Boris et al. What are they going to call them? Liars.

No, the crabs! Cornish king crabs.

Oh my God, suddenly I love them. Arachnophobia gone. I’ll have a dressed one for starters, followed by the grilled Cornish sole with lemon butter. Good choice. Unless you fancy the rock salmon … AKA bull huss, spurdog or lesser spotted dogfish.

Yeah, but that is actually pretty grim. What’s megr – sorry, Cornish sole, actually like? Quite good, actually – a quality, sustainable white fish. It’s no oil painting, and it might not have quite the flavour or texture of dover sole, but it’s better than a slap in the face with a wet one.

Do say: Pollocks to Brexit.

Don’t say: Ah! Soles …

The GuardianTramp

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