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Moreen Simpson: SeaFest in Peterhead means even more fun for foodies in the north-east

A new food festival in the Blue Toon could be just what we need to keep pescatarians satisfied.

Lobster pots in Peterhead, which is to host a new seafood festival (Image: richardjohnson/Shutterstock)
Lobster pots in Peterhead, which is to host a new seafood festival (Image: richardjohnson/Shutterstock)

Delighted to hear about a new event on the Neest calendar.

SeaFest Peterhead next month is highlighting our wonderful bounty of the ocean. Canna wait.

For years, it baffled me why there was such a shortage of seafood, particularly shellfish, in local eat-ooteries, until I discovered most of it was being express-delivered to extortionate restaurants doon sooth. Then again, maybe locals were keener on their battered haddock than spicy king prawns. But no more.

Shellfish is now hugely popular, although we still don’t have enough the likes of The Silver Darling, Tolbooth and Creel Inn in the area to keep potential pescatarians like me satisfied.

Hence the following hymn-of-praise to my nine-year-old grandson. Although he’s long and thin, he eats massive amounts and knows exactly what he likes. On holiday in Spain recently, his plates were mounted with all kinds of meat, greens (‘specially broccoli), tatties – and he’d polish off the lot.

It’s wonderful to have another potential foodie in the family, just like his uncle. And totally unlike his mum, his uncle’s twin. They may have been born within a minute of each other, but my babes could hardly be less twinlike, especially when it comes to what and how they eat.

He’ll explore the planet for the perfect plate and loves cooking. To her, food is simply fuel. She’ll eat most things (except lettuce), but doesn’t like anything in particular. Never has she said at the end of a meal: “That was delicious.” Never has she finished everything on her plate.

Then comes this shocker from her wee loon. When I asked what he wanted me to cook for his next tea, he declared: “Lobster!” Apparently he’d seen it being served on Junior MasterChef and reckoned it looked delish. And so it is, my darling. Nectar of the gods, when it’s cooked properly.

Sadly, my experience with the clawed craiter is nae great. A few years ago, Lidl hit the headlines for selling frozen half lobsters at some ludicrously cheap rate. I was in there like a bat out of hell. Unfortunately, once defrosted, trying to extract any flesh from the shell was hugely hazardous, involving me with a hammer, chisel, sharp knife and Elastoplast. After an hour of howkin’ (and cowkin’), I was lucky if I managed a couple of shell-free mouthfuls.

Hungry seafood fans who find themselves in the north-east won’t leave disappointed (Image: Artur Begel/Shutterstock)

So, my next date with my new wee foodie will be doon to The Lobster Shop in Johnshaven, where they do it all for you. Nae cheap, but affa fine. And we’ll defo be off to the Blue Toon SeaFest, where I might meet up again with Amity Fish boss, Jimmy Buchan.

I interviewed him a few years back, when the Beeb did a series about the local skippers. Seeing my fascination for what he did, Jimmy invited me oot on a one-day trip. No way, Jose Buchanno. I’d have been Spewy Louis even before we chugged oot the harbour, let alone surrounded by crates of clutching prawns and loupin’ lemon sole. But maybe one day he could take my gourmet grandson…

Aberdeen should permanently honour pioneering Professor John Mallard

While the film Oppenheimer reveals how a physics genius introduced mass destruction to mankind, this week the north-east can reflect on how another pioneer in the subject used it to save lives. The University of Aberdeen has just announced plans to hold a memorial event in King’s College Chapel on August 19, to celebrate the life of the late Professor John Mallard, a hugely talented scientist with a vision of how physics could be used to improve healthcare.

After working tirelessly, and quietly, for many years on the Foresterhill campus, he eventually developed the world’s first, revolutionary, whole-body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner. One of the closest members of his small, dedicated team was technician Eddie Stephenson, better known to Aberdeen folk as the man behind the superb Christmas light display in his garden at Ashgrove Road West. Now, what a film that would make…

Professor Mallard stands with the Mark-1 Scanner
A proud Prof Mallard standing with his Mark-1 scanner

I recall being almost overwhelmed at the prospect of meeting the prof soon after his scanner became headline news. In fact, he was a shy, charming, self-effacing man, supremely modest about his achievement. As a result of his invention, medical treatment around the world has been transformed; millions of lives have possibly been saved thanks to early and exact diagnosis.

The professor, who died in 2021, had already received the Freedom of the City. Now I suggest the university, NHS Grampian and Aberdeen council put their heads together and erect a statue in the grounds of Foresterhill to honour this supreme life-saver.

Moreen Simpson is a former assistant editor of the Evening Express and The Press & Journal, and started her journalism career in 1970