Fish & Chips - Rule Food Britannia says columnist Richie Stamp
With it been National Chip Week last week, thought I would talk about Fish n Chips again, something we have at least once a month... Here goes, get the vinegar out...
Talking of British Traditions & British Traditional food
all the time has brought me finally to write about a great British dish of Fish
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A few weeks ago I was watching a programme on the television
about our first 'Chippies', Chip shops. It went right back to the 1800's. It
was very interesting and the restoration of some of the coal burning fryers
from the 1930's was fabulous to see, such great Art Deco designs, who knew that
fryers could look so extravagant & stylish.
Fish & Chips was originally a staple food, a cheap meal,
frying some odd pieces of fish in a batter, bit of a pauper's meal that would
fill up and be cheap to make for the working classes around the mid 1800's.
Charles Dickens wrote in some of his classics mentioning fish & chips and
chip shops. We love our chips, chips with everything it seems now.
Frying some cut up potatoes, sprinkling on some vinegar
& salt is one accompaniment that we cannot resist. We do try though as
unfortunately they aren't very healthy, we do try to 'health-ylise' them, not
using a lot of oil and baking them. But that's not a chip... It's a potato
wedge ! Buying what seems from the packaging the healthy option from the
supermarket freezer doesn't make them any better for you neither, at the end of
the day Chips need some sort of fat or oil to cook. But we love them, dipping
them in Ketchup... Yum Yum.
The best place for fish & chips has to be the seaside,
coastal retreats. When we plan or visit the seaside we all enjoy some of the
best fish in the land. We are lucky here in Scunthorpe, because we live only
30minutes away from one of Europe's best fishing docks at Grimsby. The freshest
of fish brought to shore. In the beginning Chip shops originated at seaside
resorts, and with a age of steam & trains brought it to the towns &
cities. Chip shops started to appear on every street and corners.
A nice piece of battered haddock or cod is always a best
seller and thoroughly enjoyed, crispy batter crunching in your mouth, walking
along the prom, and if we are lucky, enjoying the sunshine too.
One of the best parts of enjoying a tray of Fish 'n' chips
is the scraps, the little pieces of batter that drips off the fingers of the
person frying or that gets separated from the fish as the oil bubbles up.
''Would you like scraps?'' we get asked nowadays.
This fashion of Chip shops sprouting up everywhere, brought
us the first mobile catering vans too, pulled by horse & a bell ringing, a
bit like the ice cream carts of the time too. People would rush out to buy
their fish 'n' chips wrapped in newspaper and eat them straight away on the
corner of their street. Just simple, not just children but adults too. A shilling
a bag perhaps.
Fried in a cauldron sat on some coal fire in a wooden
caravan looking cart. Not very 'health & safety' is it, inside would be
candle lamps, seems very dangerous to us now and we couldn't do that now. It
would open a right 'kettle of worms' with our Health & Safety departments.
Fish & Chips was one of the foods not rationed in World
War 2, which is interesting. Today we have environmental issues around Fish,
making sure it is sustainable & line caught, not dredged so it doesn't harm
the sea bed and that fish stocks last.
Trawlers only fishing under strict regulations. Which is good, because it makes
sure we care & protect our environment for future generations, and with it
making sure that future generations have Fish 'n' Chips & the Great British
tradition carries on.
So next time your in the queue for your chips, have a think
about all those glorious years of Fish 'n' Chips and what you like about them.