Britain. London cuisine: all about fish & chips
You know how Sizzling and shkvorchit oil, when he is throwing are covered in the test fish? Most likely, Yes. If not, you can get acquainted with this sound in almost every London quarter.
In Covent garden, in Central London, it has been Sizzling and bubbling for more than 130 years, because for more than 130 years this place has been preparing the most popular English dish – fish & chips – fried fish with French fries.
Rock and Sole Plaice-which sounds like a “safe and soulful place” but is spelled “burbot and flounder” – is now the oldest place to sell fish & chips in London. The current host, Ismet Hassan, hailing from the Turkish honor of Cyprus, proudly States that “this is the main English traditional food: cod, haddock or flounder with the best fried potatoes! Much better than any artificial products that are now used in cooking!”Not quite politically correct observer may notice some contradiction in the fact that immigrated to England Turkish Cypriot became a champion of the English culinary tradition. But the mixture of traditions is the history of modern London. And yet – this is the history of fish & chips.
Its is good to learn someone else’s
That’s what came to the conclusion after studying this problem guy diamond, chief restaurant critic of the London magazine “Time out”. “It’s quite funny that fish & chips is considered almost the main example of British cuisine. But London is a city of immigrants, and has been for hundreds of years. So French fries are, of course, a French dish. It appeared in France, became very popular in Belgium, and from there in the 19th century got to London, and then the rest of England”.
“As for fried fish, the tradition of frying fish in batter was brought to London in the early 16th century by Jews expelled from Portugal and Spain. Of course, in England and before that cooked fish, but – on the grill. And the first shop, which sold fried fish and potatoes, opened in 1860 it was in the Jewish quarter of London’s East End.
But the Champions of the English tradition should not fall into complete despair. That dish, which sold in his shop in the East end, an immigrant from Eastern Europe, Joseph Malin, yet was not a classic fish & chips. The classic combination of ingredients – battered fish and deep-fried potato rectangles – was born a few years later in Lancashire, in the North of England, and from there made a rapid March to London.
According to guy diamond, this victory was a byproduct of the industrial revolution: “the Instant popularity of this dish was due to the presence in London and cities in the North of England, large masses of workers who did not have normal housing, and, accordingly, the ability to cook their own food in the kitchen. The industrial revolution led to the development of the fishing fleet and to a reduction in the cost of fish. Cod or flounder with French fries became the first example of a real fast food”.
New wave fish
Many places selling fish & chips now have tables, but they still work primarily as take-away, that is, cook take-away. What has changed, and quite radically, is the packaging. Even 20 years ago, fish & chips in London wrapped exclusively in the newspaper. Now – served in cardboard boxes.
The elegance of the interior and packaging is particularly evident in the so-called “new wave fish & chips cafe”. One of these – “Sea cow” – is located in the now fashionable area of Clapham in South London, on the other side of the Thames from the “Flounder and burbot”.
The owner of the “Sea cow” Dan Rickby brings me to the counter, on which this very new wave threw exotic fish-sword, sea bass, bream, Lucian. And also painfully familiar cod, flounder and haddock.
“What we’re doing is fish & chips, just a more prestigious version of fish & chips,” Dan explains. – And it’s not just about the variety of fish and diluting the tradition of exotic. We can roast cod and chips. But 90 percent of our fish we cook on the grill. Cod on the grill to fry meaningless – it is too dry. Therefore, we offer a lot of new and unusual varieties of fresh fish, we put it on the grill with you, instead of potatoes we can offer salad-arugula – what could be better?”
Indeed, what could be better than the new, which is actually – well-forgotten old? After all, as we now know, fish in England was grilled before fish & chips.
It’s all about oil
And if it’s all about the grill for Dan Rickby, it’s all about the oil in London’s oldest fish & chips. At least, that’s what I was told, standing at the gurgling VAT, the son of the owner of “Burbot and flounder”, Ali.
“Our main secret is how to use the oil. This is generally the most important thing for fish and chips – to know when to put the fish in the oil, at what temperature. We use peanut butter, it is lighter than vegetable oil, does not leave a feeling of heaviness. Some use ghee, and in the North of England until now popular fat beef. But we think peanut butter is the healthiest. And so, we bring it to the condition, we lower the fish, and after seven or eight minutes it POPs up – everything, your portion is ready!”
It sounds simple, it turns out tasty, and, most importantly, relatively cheap – even exotic fish and chips of the new wave are not more expensive than seven pounds. According to guy diamond, it is this democratic cheapness that contributes to the unsinkability of fish and chips in the increasingly cosmopolitan culinary world of London.
In General, it turns out that the fish in batter with French fries – is the perfect London symbol. And, by the way, according to tradition, this symbol is often added to another component – mashed peas.