Monday 27 September 2010

Mmmmmmm CHIPS.

There are so many things about England I adore – which I suppose is a good thing as it’s home now. Up there at the top of the list is the country's respect and embrace of tradition. You see it all over the place, from the monarchy and the changing of the guards, to the various celebrations like Bonfire Night (ironic that I pick the one celebration that honors someone who tried to blow up Parliament), to Sunday roast lunches and the Coronation Street Omnibus...I kid I kid. (Coronation Street is the world’s longest running soap opera, for those of you not in the know). One of my favorite English traditions is the enduring existence of the fish and chips shop. Kind of strange I realize, as I don’t really partake in ingesting the tradition, but there is something about a dedication to fried food that dates back to the 1860’s, that you just have to love.

I remember when I was taken for my first fish and chips experience. The place I went to was still wrapping it up in a piece of newspaper. Kind of vile when you think about it, but it went along with the whole, “I’m in England innit luv,” mystique – and to be fair it did have lining paper separating the fish and chips from the newspaper, but still, the OCD in me found this slightly disturbing. Now, I’m not big on fried food, as I said - or my hips aren't; damn you hips - but I’m telling you, the chips if done right, are worth every single calorie, especially when loaded with salt and vinegar, and if you can manage to cut through all the batter and reach the fish below, you’ll never taste a better piece of cod. (Okay, maybe the miso cod at Nobu’s, but nothing at Nobu’s is under a fiver. In fact, I think they even charge you five quid to use the bathroom).

There literally used to be a chippie – as they call them - on every corner in England. Sadly now, as my partner will be glad to tell you, most of the fish and chip shops are now being replaced by ‘chicken places.’ I’m not sure exactly what that entails, but I’m thinking it’s centered around chicken that comes in a box - truly gourmet stuff. 

To  my partner's delight, we stumbled upon a chippie tonight that is new to our neighborhood. The décor was all done up like you were down at the seashore, which of course I found adorable especially as Van Morrison was on full volume. I’m thinking atmosphere of this sort is not a requirement for most F&C lovers, as my partner was clearly more concerned about how his chips were going to taste. You see where my priorities lie.

Upon walking in, the tall bald man at the counter greeted us with a huge smile. He immediately clocked the King – who was looking his most adorable all bundled up, as winter is apparently here – and started addressing him with a ‘hey mate, how are you doing tonight guv?’ I liked this man immediately. As it turns out, Mr. tall friendly bald man is a descendant of three generations of fish and chip shop owners, and you could tell that carrying on this family tradition was very important to him. I suppose the existence of the chippies appeal to that side of me that hates antiseptic chain restaurants especially as they seem to be taking over the universe. Then again, they could also appeal to that girl trapped inside of me that wishes she could eat French fries all day long. I mean seriously, who doesn’t?
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