Now don’t get me wrong, I love ’em all – Doner, kefta, Korma, Vindaloo, Falafel, Fried chicken, Tex Mex, Beigel, Bolognaise – all the foreign fare that is now part and parcel of the multicultural British gastronomic landscape, but, walking home on this London evening, I really fancy some Fish and Chips – the traditional national dish (before chicken curry), the working man’s Friday night treat – chips fried in beef dripping, fish with batter so crispy that it cracks into small sherds when you bite into it – the whole lot served with lashings of salt and vinegar and perhaps some mushy peas on the side. After the great British breakfast, nothing better than fish, chips and peas, a smear of tartare sauce, all washed down with a cup of tea. So tonight’s fish and chips, if I can find any, will be washed down with wine.
OUCH!!! – hunger pangs. I’ve gotta find a “Chippe” (or a Chipper). From Fulham Broadway to West Ken – three fish and chip shops – all closed for the duration – does no one eat fish and chips around here?
All I can find is supermarket versions of this great British classic – Marks and Spencer’s “Pub Grub” style fish and chips – 30 minutes in the oven or 9 minutes in the microwave – a sad and pallid fish portion in thin batter and just a handful of chips – perhaps enough for a kiddies’ menu, but not enough to satisfy a ravenous ex-pat, who is hankering after an authentic taste of his childhood – ah yes, we had good Chippies back when I was a kid in South East London – all Greek run, because as anyone knows, only the Greeks make decent fish and chips. I still remember the names – Andreous in Shirley, the Icelandic Fish bar in Hayes, the Oakhill Chip Bar in Beckenham. Where have all the chip shops gone? I suppose that fish and chips now firmly goes under the title of pub grub and I’d have to pop into a local boozer for a plate – but I want to eat my fish and chips out of the paper, balanced on my knees in front of the telly, that’s how they’re supposed to be eaten.
No more fish and chips – the influx of foreign food? Dwindling fish stocks? The fad for healthy eating? Who knows. Seems like the locals don’t eat fish and chips now. Like Big Ben and the Crown Jewels, they have become part and parcel of the tourist trade. You’ll get Fish and Chips for a tenner in Covent Garden, but off the well beaten tourist track, fish and chips are just a thing of the past. Sure seems like the chips are down for the traditional Chipper.