Oh I do like to be beside the seaside…
Oh I do like to be beside the sea…
British Fish & Chips
If there’s one thing my family absolutely HAD to do on a trip to the seaside, it was to get greasy fish and chips and stubbornly sit on the beach, wrapped up in layer upon layer to protect us from the howling wind. Well, there were two things actually; the other was to waste a ton of money on the 2p coin sliders in the arcades on the pier.
Ahhhhh.. But the Best fish and chips i have ever tasted was from the fish and chip shops in and around Newquay
I say ‘greasy’ because there really is no other word for it. Battered fish deep fried, accompanied by deep-fried potato chips and, if you’re feeling healthy, a portion of mushy peas on the side. All covered with lashings of salt and vinegar. It’s not exactly what you’d call nutritionally balanced. An average portion contains almost 1000 calories and 52 grams of fat, according to the National Federation of Fish Friers. On the plus side though, the dish is a valuable source of protein, fibre, iron and vitamins.
Takeaway fish and chips was traditionally served wrapped in newspaper, but for hygiene reasons it now generally comes in plain paper or some other container. Some places may actually go to the effort of using paper printed to look like newspaper on the outer wrapping, mimicking the traditional serving method.
But what is it about fish and chips, aside from its calorific content, that makes the dish so dear to the British and certainly a strong contender for ‘National dish of Great Britain’?
Fried fish has its origins in Spain and Portugal and was brought to the UK in the 16th or 17th century by Jewish immigrants, however it’s us Brits who had the culinary genius required to pair battered fish with fried potato chips.
There are two contenders for the first fish and chip shop: a trader in Lancashire who had been selling fish and chips from a wooden market hut since 1863 later opened a shop bearing the message “This is the first fish and chip shop in the world”, but it is claimed that another fish and chip shop opened in London in 1860. Either way, we’re looking at 150+ years of fish and chips.
Through the end of the 19th century and well into the 20th century, fish and chips was very much a working class meal, especially popular in industrial areas. Henry Mayhew in 1861 described it as “the food of the poor”. But somehow the dish has crept its way onto the menus of classy gastropubs all over the nation, and was even served at the Ivy in London when it was given a makeover in 1990.
Its ability to span the classes in this way makes it a true contender for Britain’s favourite dish.
There are some pretty impressive statistics to back up the dish’s popularity, too (all courtesy of the NFFF).
Did you know that the number of fish and chip shops in the UK outnumbers McDonalds outlets by almost 9:1? That’s a whole lot of local businesses you can be proud to support.
While 80% of Brits visit a fish and chip shop at least once a year, almost a quarter (22%) visit every week, and the total nationwide annual spend on fish and chips is £1.2 billion.
And let’s finish with a world record, because who doesn’t love a world record? Fish & Chips @ London Road in Enfield, London, holds the record for the world’s largest portion of fish and chips. In July 2012 they served up an enormous 47kg of halibut and chips!