Whether wrapped in newspaper and eaten with greasy fingers or served on white china with silver cutlery, fish and chips has come a long way since it began 150 years ago.
The dish has survived the arrival of McDonalds and the trend for healthy and organic food, and there are now about 10,500 ‘chippies’ across Britain serving up between 250 million and 350 million portions each year.
What began as a cheap working-class meal became a national favourite and is now a culinary classic served at some of Britain’s top restaurants. “It’s one of our top sellers,” said J Sheekey head chef Richard Kirkwood.
“For me, there’s something quite special about putting your knife into a light, crispy batter and then into the soft part of the fish and eating it together. You’ve got the crunchy, you’ve got the soft, you’ve got the sweet peas, the crispy chips. It’s a great meal.”
The National Federation of Fish Friers believes the first fish and chip shop was set up in 1860 — which makes 2010 its 150th birthday — although chippies in northern England and London still argue over where this shop was.
In a 2008 poll, fish and chips was voted above the queen as the thing Britons best love about Britain, while lawmakers celebrated its birthday this year with a motion proclaiming it as “at the heart of British culture”.
Meanwhile, Rock and Sole Plaice, which claims to be the oldest chippie in London, serves up to 2,000 portions a day, largely to foreigners — including Bill and Hillary Clinton. — AFP