Daily Express

Fish and quips for Mary

- Mike Ward

JUST in case you’re plan­ning to ask her over for din­ner some­time soon, I should warn you there’s a par­tic­u­lar fish that Mary Berry’s not keen on. “I don’t like gurnard,” she in­forms a cheery fish­mon­ger chappy in MARY BERRY’S SIM­PLE COM­FORTS ( BBC2, 8pm).

Some­what sur­prised, this fish­mon­ger­ing fel­low asks: “Why not?” To which Mary replies: “I don’t like the way they look at me.”

Now, I ap­pre­ci­ate this may seem a fairly triv­ial ex­change – the episode is mostly about Mary’s trip to Ire­land, where this mar­ket in Cork is her first port of call – but I have to say I find the whole en­counter quite re­fresh­ing.

TV cooks tend to fo­cus so much on the food they adore, and on find­ing ever more ef­fu­sive ways to de­scribe it, that their culi­nary pas­sions are rarely put into per­spec­tive. En­thu­si­asm is a won­der­ful thing, and don’t let’s knock them for it, but, well, it’s just not nor­mal to like ev­ery­thing you eat, is it?

And if you’re con­stantly im­ply­ing that you do, sooner or later I’m go­ing to start ques­tion­ing your judgment.

So, yes, huge re­spect to Mary Berry for her hon­esty. She doesn’t like gurnard and she’s jolly well not afraid to say so.

I only hope she con­tin­ues in this vein in fu­ture shows. Not by re­peat­edly re­mind­ing us of this gurnard aver­sion – she’s made her­self per­fectly clear on that, there’s no need to bang on about it – but by point­ing out one or two fur­ther dis­likes, just to re­mind us how dis­cern­ing she is.

On a sep­a­rate note, I also love the spe­cific rea­son she gives for this fish- re­lated pho­bia. A prob­lem with the flavour? Or the tex­ture, per­haps? Nope. It’s the way they look at her. This only makes me love her even more.

I’m not aware that Nadiya Hus­sain, Mary’s fel­low for­mer Bake- Of­fer, has men­tioned any of her own foodie dis­likes. But then she’s half a cen­tury younger, so I don’t sup­pose she’s in any rush.

For now, she’s con­tin­u­ing her NADIYA BAKES series ( BBC2, 8.30pm) with, among other treats, a pie she’s par­tic­u­larly pas­sion­ate about (“Who doesn’t love pies?”).

To be pre­cise, she’s putting to­gether a chicken and pink pep­per­corn puff pas­try pithivier, even though that’s way too many Ps for one recipe.

And in­side it she’s hid­den – well, golly me – an en­tire brie.

I say “hid­den” – it’s not as if you’ll win any prizes for find­ing it.


( Chan­nel 4, 8pm) re­calls house­hunts where the buy­ers also had busi­ness needs.

They in­clude a pair who, like so many of us, ur­gently needed room for their camels.

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