Why fish and chips is the perfect dish
The British classic remains a greatly adored treat
Personally, I am not an overly adventurous person. The most daring circumstances I encounter are when I accidentally squirt too much toothpaste onto my toothbrush and then I have to endure the wild pain of a slightly minty and tingly mouth. I know it’s going to be a bad day when that happens.
I am no different when it comes to food. Spicy foods may as well have been cooked in the pits of Hell as far as I’m concerned. Experimenting is something that should solely be left to mad scientists.
Many people would claim, therefore, that I am boring – which wouldn’t be too far from the truth, to be honest. However, I much prefer the more glamorous description of being traditional. At least that way I fit in with the stereotypical British person; I even wear a bowler hat and drive a bus to work every day.
As well as the stale assumptions that everyone in the UK speaks like the Queen (try telling that to a Geordie) and walks around wearing only a giant Union Jack flag (I find that it blends in very well in the trendy world of Instagram), a critical part of the British stereotype is food. Whether it’s toad in the hole, bangers and mash, a Sunday roast or a mighty full English breakfast, folks around the world have the uncanny knack of understanding exactly what Brits love to eat (the soggy cheesy chips following a boozy night out in Blackpool haven’t quite made the grade just yet).
Top of the tree of the choices of typical British meals is, of course, fish and chips. It’s a world beater. A dominator. With a belly full of fish and chips one person could conquer the entire universe. Even Richard Hammond.
Those ignorant of the power of fish and chips are likely to think that it is simply a straightforward and bland dish – and it can be. The beauty of it is that it can be equally sublime whether it’s been cooked from frozen in thirty minutes or delicately perfected using the finest of ingredients by a dedicated chef. It can serve as a cheeky and greasy Friday night treat from the chippy or a luxury meal at a posh hotel – complete with enormous, hand-cut chips and a whacking great dollop of homemade tartare sauce. Fish and chips can be a lot more versatile than some might imagine.
Perhaps one of the reasons for Britain’s love of the honest fish and chips is the country’s devotion to the sea. The UK has a great deal of respect for its fishing industry (the European Union doesn’t need reminding of that) and many Brits see the history of the island nation as something to be (mostly) proud of. It could be suggested that the venerable cuisine is seen as a physical representation of those admirations.
Naturally, the convenience of fish and chips is a major reason for it being so widely loved. Through the turmoils of an Industrial Revolution, wars and an unpredictable digital age, the images and thoughts of fish and chips have always been present. Whenever anyone buys a helping of fish and chips one certainty is that a hound of hungry hands will be buzzing around, picking off salty chips and pieces of battered cod or haddock.
Despite the burden of opposition from superpowers like McDonald’s and the incredible uncertainty of an ailing high street, the humble fish and chip dinners still rule supreme. Although irreparably old-fashioned, fish and chips has the sturdy heritage to enable it to shield itself against the effects of time – even if some people consider it to be boring.