'My favourite was the spinach:' hungry reporter checks out new school dinner menu (From Enfield Independent)
Get involved: send your pictures, video, news & views by texting ENFIELD NEWS to 80360, or email us
'My favourite was the spinach:' hungry reporter Hermione Wright checks out new school dinner menu
Enfield Council has announced it will introduce a new international school dinner menu in Enfield's primary schools in November.
A group of children and parents from the Parent Engagement Panel were given the chance to test some of the dishes on Wednesday to allow any changes to be made before they are brought to schools.
Reporter Hermione Wright decided it would just be rude not to give it a go.
“My favourite was the spinach.” I have to admit, I was taken aback. It’s not a confession I’d expect to hear from a fully-grown adult, let alone a 12-year-old boy. Things have obviously come a long way since my school dinner days of soggy turkey, limp lettuce and smiley potato faces.
On Wednesday, I was given the tricky task of sampling the new international school dinner menu coming to Enfield’s primary schools in November. It’s a new hobby of mine after being treated to the likes of aubergine ragout and puff pastry parcels in Chase Side Primary School back in July.
I was joined at Enfield Civic Centre by a crew of hungry children and their parents who were all ready to rate the dishes in terms of taste and appearance. I was armed with my red pen and was more than willing to be brutal.
When I saw the restaurant-quality menu, I knew my pen would be wasted – I was already a convert. Amongst the dishes was turlu turlu, a Turkish roast and spiced vegetable dish with aubergines, chick peas and plain yoghurt, Jamaican lamb patties and Tuscan bean and butternut squash risotto.
Dessert options were a little more traditional - chocolate sponge with chocolate sauce, carrot cake, spiced apple cake or Greek yoghurt with honey and soft fruits.
My pile of food didn’t stay loaded for long – I tried everything, just for research purposes of course. It was delicious, and two days later, I’m still full.
However, I was more than concerned about whether Enfield’s little ones would stomach the dishes. School dinners are famous for their slop; and here, there was not a drop of slop in sight. The meals are also ultra-healthy, with cooks taking authentic recipes and adapting them to meet strict nutritional guidelines.
However, I underestimated the kids, and I feel like an apology is needed.
Eight-year-old Melika Bozkurt was tucking into a plate of Jamaican patties with her brother Jany. She said they were delicious and was very keen to tell me she loved the Greek yoghurt which she had tried earlier. Honey is one of her favourite things and she was thrilled to find it in a school dessert.
Zach Taani, 12, was with his mother Catherine. The baked fish served with spinach and plantain wedges was his favourite. Mrs Taani was very impressed with the food, but did say the dishes should be given zany names to encourage Enfield’s less adventurous youngsters to give them a go.
A couple of parents said a few dishes need to be adapted slightly to increase the flavour, and some said the Indian kheema matar was too spicy. But, on the whole, it was a big thumbs up. Chefs will now tweak the recipes to make sure they are perfect before they are introduced in the new term.
Councillor Ayfer Orhan, cabinet member for children and young people, was waiting to tuck into her own school dinner. She said: “I think children’s palettes have changed. They are used to different tastes so why not create a school dinner using beautiful colours which excite the senses? I don’t want to be the Jamie Oliver of Enfield but for me, colour is important and the look of a meal is extremely important.”
She hopes the newfangled menu will tempt more children to opt for school dinners rather than bringing packed lunches into school and is even considering getting children to give quirky names to each of the meals.
Andrew Fraser, director of schools and children’s services at Enfield Council, said his favourite dish was the Jamaican patty as well as the baked plantain. He said the new menu is really exciting and is pleased to hear so many people have been positive about the dishes.
What can I say? It's obvious, Enfield has the most sophisticated kids in town.