Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What a Load Of...Colin?

It was reported last week that UK Supermarket chain Sainsbury's announced that they were going to rename the white fish pollack with a French name, "colin." Apparently, they believed that flagging sales were due to Brits being embarrassed to ask for pollack, because of its similarity to the British word "Bollocks," which is slang for testicles. I don't buy that explanation, especially when the renaming comes (in some stores) with special packaging designed by Wayne Hemingway, but clearly inspired by artist Jackson Pollock.

Yes, I said packaging. Sainsbury's sells pollack prepackaged. So it's not as if customers have to ask out loud for the fish in stores. I think this is all an attempt to use the media for a bit of free publicity.

Because of its mild flavor, pollack, caught in British waters, is a good substitute for cod, whose numbers have fallen dramatically in recent years. It is a more popular fish in France than in the UK. It is also cheaper than cod.

To add a further level of complexity to this tale, the French word "colin" actually means "hake," rather than pollack. The French for pollack is actually "lieu jaune," which could unfortunately be pronounced "loo john." In addition, "colin" is actually pronounced "coh-lan," so as columnist Marcel Berlins rightly points out in the Guardian, "the supermarket took a decision to deal with a nonsensical problem by using a difficult-to-pronounce foreign word that is wrongly translated from the English."

My interest in all this? My Father's name is Colin!

Real problem or just a marketing ploy? Please post a comment and let me know what you think.


Cindy said...

Way too confusing for me! But, one thing you might be able to answer, what's that greenish looking food in the picture with the fish?

andy said...

What a load of pollacks! I agree its probably just something to get publicity.


The green stuff is Mushy Peas, a delicacy peculiar to the North of England and available in all good chip shops :-)

Dead simple to make, dried Marrowfat Peas are soaked over night with a pinch of bicarbonate of soda. Next day change the water and bring to the boil, simmer for half an hour, add some salt to taste and voila!

The featured peas were delicious btw, I know because I took the picture :-)

Graham said...

@andy - thanks for jumping in to explain mushy peas to @Cindy

I've never really liked mushy peas, but my (American) wife developed a liking from them. Whenever we go back to England, one of my first trips is to the local chip shop, and I have to get mushy peas.

Nice photo, Andy - it does look tasty!

gudgini said...

It has to be said, pollack is delicious! I've never been a fan of 'bland' cod, but pollack has more flavour (this is the English spelling of 'flavor')! Mushy peas are yummmy! :) P.S. I'm Graham's little brother and can vouch for the mad dash to the Fish & Chip shop, whenever his wife visits. His daughter likes them, too.

Graham said...

Hey little bro! I agree with what gudgini said - pollack IS tastier than cod.

Looks like I'm completely outnumbered about mushy peas. I don't *hate* them, but I'm not a big fan.

Cindy said...

I guess I could use dried green peas - I never heard of Marrowfat peas. sounds yummy! Looks gross!

Graham said...

@Cindy - I believe marrowfat peas are the peas left to mature, rather than being picked young. They're left to dry out in the field.

Actually, compared to some mushy peas I've seen, @andy's look quite appetizing!