Thursday, January 22, 2009

The final word on fish and chips

I know, I need to move on from the fish and chips obsession. But since my review of The Battery in Brighton, I've been looking for ways to explain just what makes good fish and chips so good.

And it's hard, for two reasons:

I have an emotional attachment to fish and chips
It's not just a meal in isolation: it means driving to the seaside (Seaton mostly) with my parents and sitting in the car, eating chips, and watching the rough, gray waves of the North Sea. It means walking to the chip shop on a Friday night to get fish-and-chips-three-times-and-a-pineapple-ring (my favorite), and then running home with a warm bundle wrapped in newspaper. It means schoolyard discussions on the subject of
scraps, and whether they were necessary. It's Proustian, but with more malt vinegar.

The basic description sounds gross
It's true. Deep-fried fish in batter, served with fat chips that are best if there's no crunch, no hard bits, just a pale, soft wedge of potato, all sitting on a piece of wax paper turned translucent from the grease. Yum? No.

Luckily, the Guardian came through for me this week, with an
article about the Best Fish and Chip Shop of the Year 2008 award and a description that perfectly encapsulated the essence of fish and chips:
And to my way of thinking, the papery rustle of chips, the golden brown of autumn leaves, the exquisite crunch of crisp batter, the little puff of steam bearing the sweet promise of cod or haddock (sustainably sauced, of course) that escapes as you break through the batter carapace for the first time, the slippery collops of hot, lucent, white fish slipping between your fingers into your mouth, the tang of vinegar, the rasp of salt, the gloss of fat on the lips – don't tell me that these aren't the equal to any gastronomic experience in any part of the world.
I really have nothing to add.

Oh, except this: As we were heading to Penn Station at the end of our NYC trip the other week, we made a pit-stop at
A Salt and Battery. It might not be real absolute proper fish and chips, but it will do for now.

Their flaky, fabulous steak and kidney pie: beef gravy and pastry is one of the best combinations ever.

Sadly, we were too full for dessert:

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Blogger Jules said...

I agree, there is something about Fish & Chips that is so comforting. I especially love scraps doused in lots of salt and vinegar.

8:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's so bad out here in the desert that we buy cod (Whole Foods) and deep fry our's smelly but easier. There is a halfway decent English pub here in Vegas that makes good fish and chips but it's about a half hour away by car, so we couldn't drink and getting a cab anywhere other than the Strip is a near impossibility...the cabbies are asshats if they are asked to actually serve local residents. I wish we still lived in Boston...Or I could get hubby to move back to Surrey, UK at least we could get truly fresh fish.. OK enough wingeing.

4:00 PM  

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