Getting people of all ages to embrace new foods can be a real challenge

A veal chop
A veal chop

Borough Market in London’s East End is one of the oldest in the world and a mecca for food lovers from every corner of the globe. A couple of weeks ago I was cooking there as part of a showcase for Northern Irish produce, organised with Food NI in conjunction with Invest NI.

Tourists, regular market goers and ex-pats from Northern Ireland flocked to our area in the market to celebrate St Patrick’s day.

One of the regular stall holders at Borough is Ted’s Veg and is run by Malaysian woman Shuk Ng. They grow much of their produce in Kent and supplement it in the off season with produce from other parts of Europe.

Shuk says she loves to see kids coming to the stand to try vegetables. One of their favourite things to do is ask her for the hottest, Scotch Bonnet chillis and then egg each other on to try them.

Andrew Rooney, from Rooney Oysters in Kilkeel, had a stand at the market, shucking and selling his sublime oysters. They’ve won multiple Great Taste Awards and grace the shellfish bars in the world’s best restaurants. When a child came to Andrew to try an oyster for the first time, he gave it to them free and then presented the youngster with the shell as a momentum.

It’s refreshing to see young people embrace food and try new things instead of turning their noses up at anything different. Get them young, devoid of peer pressure and encourage our young people to have a go. Rooney oysters are about twice the size of any other varieties you may have seen. They’re the best I’ve ever tasted and well worth sussing out for a treat. Andrew piped a few drops of gin onto each oyster to open the flavours up even more. Enjoy with a glass of bubbles or stout for something really special.

Back at home in St George’s Market in Belfast, Millie Cole, of Broughgammon Farm, is trying to sell Irish rose veal to grown ups. Veal has had a bad press in the past as the product of a forced, cruel process. In reality Broughgammon veal is one of the most sustainable and ethical things you can eat, not dismissing the fact that it’s also delicious.

Young male cattle would otherwise end up in the incinerator so it makes sense on all levels to eat it. Another common misconception is that it’s a luxury item. You could spend £8 on one of Millie’s veal t-bones or I buy two thin escalopes for £3.50. The meat is packed with flavour and you could have a tasty meal for two with vegetables for less than a tenner.

My first recipe is for veal schnitzel with lemon and garlic butter sauce. Schnitzel are thin breaded escalopes fried in oil until crisp and golden. They were popular in the 1980s but fell by the wayside in favour of more fashionable snazzy dishes. In reality what could be nicer than crispy, tasty meat with a warm zingy, garlicky, butter sauce? It might even tempt a young person to deviate from KFC.

My other recipe this week is for one that will please young and old alike and the perfect dessert for Mother’s Day. It’s for a chocolate meringue cake with raspberries and chocolate cream. Crispy, chewy chocolate meringue with zingy raspberries and a luxurious chocolate cream. Offer it as a dangling carrot to get your brood to try something new and say Happy Mother’s Day too.