Celebrate International Fish and Chips Day
International Fish and Chips day is a reason to celebrate!
Friday, 7th June 2019 is International Fish and Chips day and it celebrates one of the world’s favourite fast foods, the humble fish and chips.
Friday is historically one day South Africans often share fish and chips with the family. So it is fitting that International Fish and Chips Day falls on a Friday!
Rich, delicious, flavorful, and utterly satisfying, that’s the best way to describe this treat. There’s something about the tang of salt and the oil-stained grease paper that just speaks of a meal so steeped in tradition it only seems appropriate to celebrate it.
Fish and Chips day commemorate’s this fundamental meal of the working class, and while its roots may lay on Britannia’s foggy shores, there are few places in the world that this comfort food hasn’t found its way to, including South Africa.
History of Fish and Chips
Cheap, filling, and high caloric food created an excellent foundation for a working class that held incredibly physically demanding jobs. Thus it was that “Chippers” started cropping up all over major population centers, the vendors that served fish and chips to the people on the street. From there, the meal spread all over the world and is now popular all over Canada (being sold from ‘Chip Wagons’) and throughout the USA. In South Africa it can be found in everything from corner burger shops as part of their fry menu, to some of the most upscale restaurants which provide them with only the best cod and sides.
“It really is a meal that crosses all the boundaries of culture, class, and status”
In 1910 there were more than 25,000 fish and chip shops across the UK, and by the 1930s it increased to over 35,000. Winston Churchill called them “the good companions”. To each other, yes, but also to the British public.
They sustained morale through two world wars and helped fuel Britain’s industrial prime. Cheap, easily accessible, tasty, filling and comforting this was a dish that has been feeding the masses since the 1860s and still continues to do so today.
George Orwell in The Road to Wigan Pier (1937) put fish and chips first among the home comforts that helped keep the masses happy and “averted revolution”. During World War II, ministers bent over backwards to make sure fish and chips were one of the few foods that were never rationed.
“The Portuguese gave us fried fish, the Belgians invented chips but 150 years ago an East End boy united them to create The World’s Greatest Double Act”
The Humble Chip
The story of the humble chip goes back to the 17th Century to either Belgium or France, depending on who you believe.
Oddly enough, the chip may have been invented as a substitute for fish, rather than an accompaniment. When the rivers froze over and nothing could be caught, resourceful housewives began cutting potatoes into fishy shapes and frying them as an alternative.
Around the same time, fried fish was introduced into Britain by Jewish refugees from Portugal and Spain.
The fish was usually sold by street sellers from large trays hung round their necks. Charles Dickens refers to an early fish shop or “fried fish warehouse” in Oliver Twist (1839) where the fish generally came with other carbohydrates – sometimes bread or baked potatoes but there was no sign of the golden battered fare yet…
“Who was it who had the bright idea to marry the fish and the chips together?”
Some say it was a northern businessman called John Lees. As early as 1863, it is believed he was selling fish and chips out of a wooden hut at Mossley market in industrial Lancashire.
Others claim the first combined fish ‘n’ chip shop was actually opened by a Jewish immigrant, Joseph Malin in East London around 1860.
Whoever you believe, the idea caught on and captured the tastes of the masses. At a time when working-class diets were bleak and unvaried, fish and chips were a tasty break from the norm.
How they’ve changed serving Fish & Chips over the decades
Pre-1980s – To keep prices down, portions were often wrapped in old newspaper – a practice that survived as late as the 1980s when it was ruled unsafe for food to come into contact with newspaper ink without grease-proof paper in between.
1990s/2000s – Once the newspaper was deemed unfit to come into contact with what we were consuming, high-end restaurants and pubs wrapped their fish and chips in ‘designer’ newspaper: as a nostalgic nod to earlier times. The 1990s (like the 1960s) was full of working class people hitting the big time in all industries such as art, music, TV, film and so suddenly mainstays of working class life – such as fish and chips – had now become cool and trendy.
Now, there’s a trend emerging to serve fish and chips in disposable newspaper cones, and at fish and chip shops, it’s grease proof paper.
How we serve our fish & chips at West Coast Fisheries Milnerton!
Our fresh hake or snoek is grilled or deep-fried to perfection! If deep-fried is your choice, our deliciously thin, golden & crispy batter will not disappoint! A generous portion of slap chips, sprinkled with salt and a dash of vinegar is served as a side order and our chips are always peeled and cut fresh daily. Our fish and chips meals are package in grease-proof paper to ensure your meal is kept hot and delicious.
How to Celebrate Fish and Chip Day
Well, it starts off simple enough, doesn’t it?
Pop on over to your favorite “Chipper”, West Coast Fisheries in Milnerton, and get yourself a paper-full of this delicious and filling meal. Try it however you like it, with a little tartar sauce, a bit of mayonnaise, tomatoe sauce, salt and vinegar, or whatever strikes you as your favorite thing to flavor your dish with. Malt vinegar is a very popular addition, and with the delicious tang, it will make your Fish and Chip Day flavorful and authentic!
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