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British Billy and fish and chips
Fish and chips remain the UK’s favourite in spite of the advent of the mighty burger. According to the National Federation of Fish Friers, in 1995, the British consumed an astonishing 300 million servings of fish and chips – that equates to six servings for every man woman and child in the country. The record for the largest number of portions sold in one day by an independent fish and chip shop is over 4,000. Salt and vinegar are the traditional condiments to enhance the flavour. Feel free to send British Billy (AKA Billy the Cat) any questions, and when he isn’t sleeping or hunting, he’ll try and put a few thoughts together to help you out.
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Why are there so many fish and chip shops in the U.K.?

Posted 11/19/2009   Updated 11/19/2009 Email story   Print story

    


by British Billy
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


11/19/2009 - ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH,England -- I have tried to persuade the one who cooks at my house that a cat of my refined tastes should have freshly cooked fish each evening, but my mews fall upon deaf ears. Fish is good for my brain, my fur, my agility, and I am worth it. Thankfully, fish and chips are the fast food of choice in our house. It's quite healthy, too, compared to other take-away choices. Fish and chips are a valuable source of protein, fibre, iron and vitamins, and provide a third of the recommended daily allowance of vitamins for men and nearly half for women. No wonder I look so good.

Of course, the British chip does not resemble an American chip. Though both potato-based, the British chip is a long, thin piece of potato cooked in hot oil. I suppose it's what Americans would call a 'French fry' but chunkier.

Fish and chips remain the U.K.'s favourite in spite of the advent of the mighty burger. According to the National Federation of Fish Friers, in 1995, the British consumed an astonishing 300 million servings of fish and chips - that equates to six servings for every man woman and child in the country. The record for the largest number of portions sold in one day by an independent fish and chip shop is over 4,000. The Federation is evidently too busy frying fish to do another survey, so those are the most up-to-date statistics I can find.

With more than 11,000 fish and chip shops to choose from throughout this green and pleasant land, you should be able to find one, if not several, in a town near you. All will have a slightly different recipe for their batter, so you need to shop around until you find one that tantalises your taste buds. Salt and vinegar are the traditional condiments to enhance the flavour. Though not a fan myself, I am told that the vinegar adds an irresistible piquancy to the taste.

So how, when and where did this quintessentially British dish come about?

The potato is thought to have been brought to England from the New World in the 17th century by Sir Walter Raleigh, although it is believed that the French invented the fried potato chip, hence the term 'French fry'.

Both Lancashire and London stake a claim to being the first to invent this famous meal itself. Chips were a cheap, staple food of the industrial north whilst fried fish was introduced in London's East End. In 1839 Charles Dickens referred to a "fried fish warehouse" in his novel, 'Oliver Twist'. People soon decided that putting fried fish and chips together was a very tasty combination, and a legend was born.

So I would exhort you to cheer yourself up on a cold, dark, wet winter's night after a hard day's work with a hearty fish and chip supper. A little bit of Britain will warm the cockles of your heart and make your whiskers bristle, just like mine.



tabComments
11/20/2009 3:51:51 AM ET
And best eaten straight out of the wrapping paper Billy
Big Fred, Lakenheath
 
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