Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Frying Tonight

Ah — the English Chippie. 

Whether lit like a fluorescent beacon on the high street or perched on a windy bluff on the seafront, it beckons customers like a siren with its alluring aroma of frying cod and big fat chips, peas and malt vinegar.

Condensation fogs up the window; the floor is scuffed linoleum; a selection of fizzy-pop sweats in cans in the glass-front case; a big board behind the counter lists your choices: cod & chips, plaice & chips, haddock & chips, onion rings, mushy peas — the same in every chippie, anywhere. The door is always open, and a bin outside is stuffed with the detritus of a day’s trade: squashed-up balls of greasy paper, napkins and plastic forks. It’s as irresistible as anything on a fine dining menu, but more evocative and probably more romantic too, in its way.

When you’re about to tuck in to your steaming hot packet of crisp battered fish, still huffing air to cool the vinegar-soaked fat chip you popped in your mouth — still hungry, knowing the rest of the meal is still ahead of you — this is the moment you silently offer up a prayer of thanks to whomever first accidentally dropped a fillet in the egg — then uh-oh, the flour — then dammit! the pot of boiling oil. Oh well, you might as well eat it….

This skillet of whole cornmeal-coated rainbow trout fried in bacon drippings “hot enough to make the tails curl” bears absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to the above.

Easy Skillet Meals, Better Homes and Gardens, 1972

Also from this book: All Fired Up
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