For people who care about their food

Digging up the dirt on Ramsay

While doing a bit of background research for my article on three different ways with seared scallops I came across a video clip from Gordon Ramsay’s Channel 4 programme The F Word about fresh scallops. Guaranteed fresh, in fact – he’d just hand-dived them himself.

As you may already know, the omnipresent Mr Ramsay has a bit of a thing about hand-dived scallops – they’re less likely to have sand in them, for starters. But his strong views about them aren’t necessarily popular with everyone, as this story from January last year relates:

Daily Mail: Gordon Ramsay is blasted by fishermen for promoting ‘unsustainable’ scallops

Now, I’d be willing to accept that a sudden surge in demand for a scarce meat or fish product may cause sustainability problems – to keep up with demand, the producers have to catch increasingly immature animals, which means that they’re no longer reproducing at the same rate. We’ve seen this happening elsewhere in the fishing industry. (On the other hand, a surge in demand for manufactured goods can be a big advantage too – as the manufacturers of the various pots, pans and utensils that Delia’s name-checked over the years will no doubt attest.)

But the Mail‘s quotation from John Hermse of the Scallop Association defeated me:

Gordon Ramsay doesn’t know what he is talking about by promoting hand-dived scallops over the vessel-caught scallops. Through his ignorance he is contributing to an unsustainable practice.

Let’s just stop a moment and think about this, shall we?

Hand-dived scallops are retrieved individually, by hand, from the seabed, with little or no disturbance to the marine environment. Vessel-caught scallops are caught in large numbers by not just disturbing, but dredging up swathes of seabed, sometimes damaging coral reefs in the process. And hand-diving‘s the unsustainable practice?

Industry representatives are expected to defend their members’ interests. That’s fair enough. But I’d rather they didn’t insult my intelligence in the process, thanks.

12 Responses to “Digging up the dirt on Ramsay”

  1. caroline

    Thumbs up for Gordon and you for sticking to your guns

  2. Mike the curry fiend

    I also find it hard to believe that vessel-caught scallops can somehow be more sustainable. It seems to fly in the face of all logic.

    And it’s not just Gordon who says this. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (who I would trust on this topic) says exactly the same thing.

  3. Not Delia

    Yes, it flies in the face of all logic. I was so peeved when I read that I just had to write about it. No doubt, though, some people will believe it on the basis of “It must be true – I read it in the newspaper”. Grrrrr!

    Hmm, Hugh Fearlessly-Eatsitall. I don’t even have any of his books. Do you have any recommendations for me? I must take a closer look at his work.

  4. Mike the curry fiend

    I’ve got one at home I got for Christmas but can’t remember what it’s called. The only things I’ve tried so far is his sourdough recipe (which merits a blog in itself – it’s been a labour of love, trust me) and a baked fish recipe (which was good – especially the pea puree). He’s very into sustainability generally, organic farming etc. He has a very compassionate approach to animals (which you’ll have gathered from Chicken Run) and very much of the attitude that if you’re going to kill an animal for its meat you should make sure you use it all. I like him a lot. Plus he does a joint venture ale with my favourite brewery (Hall & Woodhouse – i.e. Badger ales) which is a nettle ale called Stinger.

  5. Not Delia

    Nettle ale? What the heck is that? I’d love to know more. I’m a big fan of real ales but don’t often get the chance to sample them.

    Sourdough is, IMO, one of the best breads you can get – if it’s done right. But you’ve got to get the starter dough (poolish?) and keep feeding it. Not easy to do it yourself, I suppose. Must have a word with Peter, our friendly neighbourhood baker.

    Our friend Caroline had a farm where they were pretty well self sufficient. (Poor old Pig – not Caroline, I meant one of their animals.) But if you’re going to eat meat, then it seems like an honest way to go about it. We can’t do that – no land or space – I’ll be lucky if I can get a little herb garden going.

    I guess we all just have to do the best we can. And my best is better than tins of mince and frozen mashed potatoes!

  6. Mike the curry fiend

    Here’s a link describing it

    http://www.hall-woodhouse.co.uk/beers/badgerales/stinger.asp

    “And my best is better than tins of mince and frozen mashed potatoes!”

    I don’t actually have any Delia books and I’ve never watched any of her programmes but in one of my books Gordon refers to her using canned mince. If it’s true, I can see that in itself is enough to be Not Delia. I really can’t understand why anyone would want to do that: it’s hardly as though fresh mince is expensive.

  7. Not Delia

    I think I love you! Of course, if you were a Mrs Smith fan, you wouldn’t be hanging out on here. 🙂

  8. Mike the curry fiend

    You say that but she’s got 2 votes in your survey 🙂

  9. Not Delia

    I know. Bah! Tell all your friends to vote. I’d do the same, but both of them have already.

    Interesting, though, how Jamie Oliver has taken an early lead.

  10. Mr Not Delia

    I like the sound of Stinger – I doubt whether I’ll get the chance to try it in the near future, but I’ll store the name in the back of my mind anyway.

    I’d never have thought of nettles as a flavouring for ale, though – it makes me think more of wine, as in The Good Life. Either that, or Reggie Perrin’s son-in-law Tom and his undrinkable efforts. 😆

  11. Mike the curry fiend

    I’ve just taken another look back at the poll. Ouch!

  12. Not Delia

    It’s a double-edged sword, Mike. I gain extra traffic because of the keyword “Delia” but, not surprisingly, they tend to like Delia. You win some, you lose some.

    Sorry for the hiatus this last week. We’ve had loads to do, our servers went down, my computer died, and I wasn’t very well. (Enough excuses?) Normal service will be resumed shortly. 🙂

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