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17 minutes ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

I once took tea in Victoria, fifty years ago.

Ah. That would explain why you are still on the RCMP‘s most wanted list. 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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12 minutes ago, FauxPas said:

 

Was it good? 😺

 

I mentioned Abkhazi because I think you cook Georgian food, don't you? 

 

It was memorable.  I have not cooked Georgian for a while, I should get back to it.

 

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9 hours ago, haresfur said:

 

btw, Many Australians still call the evening meal "tea"

 

As many do in Scotland and northern England. 'Dinner' as the evening meal is a southern English thing.

 

That is why the people who work in school canteens are called "dinner ladies"; they serve dinner, the mid-day meal.

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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There's a small trend to "manning up"  teas with mackerel pate, beef/horseradish sandwiches and suchlike offered alongside the clotted cream and jam. I thoroughly approve. I like one slice of a scone with clotted cream and jam, but two is too many.

 

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24 minutes ago, Kerala said:

There's a small trend to "manning up"  teas with mackerel pate, beef/horseradish sandwiches and suchlike offered alongside the clotted cream and jam. I thoroughly approve. I like one slice of a scone with clotted cream and jam, but two is too many.

 

 

It's the end of civilisation!

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2 hours ago, Kerala said:

There's a small trend to "manning up"  teas with mackerel pate, beef/horseradish sandwiches and suchlike offered alongside the clotted cream and jam. I thoroughly approve. I like one slice of a scone with clotted cream and jam, but two is too many.

 

My curiosity got the better of me. 
Here

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Anna N said:

My curiosity got the better of me. 
Here


While I'm in no doubt there are places pimping up their offerings, I'm somewhat suspicious of that year-old, pre-latest-lockdown article by some random blogger with an "afternoon tea" website to promote.. There is no indication of how large her sample is, but if her point is, as she claims, modelled on membership of London's "gentlemen's clubs", that would be a fraction of a fraction of 1% of London's "gentlemen" - a rather sexist term as it goes.

Edited by liuzhou (log)

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I did not for a minute expect it to be taken as authoritative only as amusing.

It makes me wonder as further amusement why nobody in the past attempted to feminize the ploughman’s lunch! 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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4 minutes ago, Anna N said:

I did not for a minute expect it to be taken as authoritative only as amusing.

It makes me wonder as further amusement why nobody in the past attempted to feminize the ploughman’s lunch! 

 

Or Coleman's mustard.  Mandarin oranges. Ham and eggs! 

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I think perhaps we forget how Afternoon tea was much more of a ritual than just tea with sandwiches and sweets. Perhaps not as complex as Asian tea ceremonies but certainly a place where you could trip up or be tripped up very easily. 

@liuzhouwould you be able to address the rituals?

 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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3 minutes ago, Anna N said:



@liuzhouwould you be able to address the rituals?

 

 

That would be a major work.  Untangling the complexities of the British class system is PhD level stuff. 

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5 minutes ago, Anna N said:

Afternoon tea .... a place where you could trip up or be tripped up very easily. 

Very astute.   The minefields we create for others and ourselves.    I often recall the story about two Southern ladies catting, "You know, Mary Lou is SO TACKY.   She's so tacky she puts dark dark meat in her chicken sandwiches."

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4 hours ago, Margaret Pilgrim said:

Very astute.   The minefields we create for others and ourselves.    I often recall the story about two Southern ladies catting, "You know, Mary Lou is SO TACKY.   She's so tacky she puts dark dark meat in her chicken sandwiches."

I grew up with people who would absolutely say that very thing.  And, of course, @Shelby and I say that about people who don't peel their tomatoes. 🤣🤣🤣

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Posted (edited)

8. Fish and Chips (Part the First)

 

1080px-London_England_Victor_Grigas_2011-37.thumb.jpg.11b2644285738933856f2a7d71410f57.jpg

 

Our dauntless YouTubers are still on the loose, searching for yet another unmissable British meal. It’s getting on for dinner time, after all. And what is more British than “Fish And Chips”? Well, maybe quite a lot.

 

The history of Britain’s iconic dish is a tangled one involving Sephardic Jews; Charles Dickens; Winston Churchill; George Orwell; Prince William, and Belgian (or was it French?) influences.

 

Also, despite being a relatively simple dish of deep-fried fish with potatoes, there are many variations to be taken into consideration at every stage of the process.

 

FISH

 

So, let’s start with the fish.

 

It is believed that the practice of deep frying fish originated among Sephardic Jews from the Iberian Peninsula who settled in England (via Holland) in the 16th century. They probably coated their fish in flour, in a similar manner to the modern Spanish dish pescado frito. At some point, some of these people started selling the fried fish in London. In Oliver Twist (1837-39), Charles Dickens mentions “a fish warehouse” in a list of shops to be found a poor, disreputable area of east London – a place where impoverished immigrants have settled for centuries before eventually settling into better areas and leaving their first English homes to the next wave.

 

Quote

Confined as the limits of Field Lane are, it has its barber, its coffee-shop, its beer-shop, and its fried-fish warehouse. It is a commercial colony of itself: the emporium of petty larceny: visited at early morning, and setting-in of dusk, by silent merchants, who traffic in dark back-parlours, and who go as strangely as they come. Here, the clothesman, the shoe-vamper, and the rag-merchant, display their goods, as sign-boards to the petty thief; here, stores of old iron and bones, and heaps of mildewy fragments of woollen-stuff and linen, rust and rot in the grimy cellars.

Dickens - A Tale of Two Cities, chapter 26

 

In 1845, Alexis Soyer published his Shilling Cookery for the People, which features a recipe for "Fried fish, Jewish fashion". Jewish fashion, according to Soyer, means using a flour and water batter.

 

It is not recorded what variety or varieties of fish Dickens’s “warehouse” was selling, but the famous Billingsgate Fish Market was nearby, so they were spoiled for choice. The market operated informally in the 16th and 17th centuries, before being officially issued with a charter in 1699. By the time Dickens was writing Oliver Twist, Billingsgate had expanded to become the largest fish market in the world. The market still exists, but in 1982, was relocated to a new 13 acre (53,000 m2) building complex, further east.

 

Billingsgatemicrocosm.thumb.jpg.5f0766e5a7f06733c6370ca10d9dd505.jpg

The original open air Billingsgate Fish Market in the early 19th century

 

Technically, pretty much any fish could be used for fish and chips, but the modern preference is for a white fish with large, firm flakes. By far, the two favourites are cod and haddock (related fish). Cod wins outright in England; haddock in Scotland, partly because it is plentiful in Scottish waters so, is sustainable, unlike cod which is considered to be “vulnerable”. Haddock also makes for excellent eating.)

 

Be sure to specify what fish you want. For example, by law, any fish sold as part of “cod and chips” must be cod. Same with all named fish; it must be that fish. If the menu just lists “fish and chips”, it can be any fish – often inferior types such as basa which are cheaper for the shop, but probably not for you.

 

BATTER

 

The fish in fish and chips is traditionally battered. Some fish and chip shops offer breaded fish as an alternative, but usually only in those establishments which have seating. Most fish and chips shops offer take away only.

The batter is usually a simple flour and water batter, perhaps with baking powder added. Many places boast about their secret batter recipe. Often the secret is that there is no secret! Beer batters etc. are rare.

COOKING MEDIUM

 

Traditionally, fish was fried in beef fat (dripping) and many still say that is the best. Including me! But health concerns and that it is unsuitable for fish-eating vegetarians and some religious groups, means its use is declining and more standard vegetable oils used instead.

 

THE CHIPS

 

At the same time as the East End of London was beginning to see the introduction of fried fish, it appears the chip showed up. Dickens again gets credit, this time for being the first to use ‘chips’ in the relevant sense. The word had been used to mean batons of fruit earlier. Dickens is the first to use it specifically to refer to potatoes.

 

Quote

Hunger. It was prevalent everywhere. Hunger was pushed out of the tall houses, in the wretched clothing that hung upon poles and lines; Hunger was patched into them with straw and rag and wood and paper; Hunger was repeated in every fragment of the small modicum of firewood that the man sawed off; Hunger stared down from the smokeless chimneys, and started up from the filthy street that had no offal, among its refuse, of anything to eat. Hunger was the inscription on the baker’s shelves, written in every small loaf of his scanty stock of bad bread; at the sausage-shop, in every dead-dog preparation that was offered for sale. Hunger rattled its dry bones among the roasting chestnuts in the turned cylinder; Hunger was shred into atomics in every farthing porringer of husky chips of potato, fried with some reluctant drops of oil.

 

Dickens - A Tale of Two Cities -Part 1, Chapter 5. Published 1859.

 

Fried chips of potato seem to have first arisen in Belgium and not France as previously thought. So, the American term “French fry“ is probably a misnomer. (For the  answer to the eternal question "What is the Difference Between French Fries and British Chips?" see this article from BBC America.)

Also, there is evidence that chips arose to replace fish when rivers and coastal seas froze over in winter, preventing fishing. People took to carving potatoes into shapes and frying them to resemble fish. I don’t suppose anyone was fooled.

 

Potatoes used for chips in fish and chip shops today are always the floury varieties which give a chip which is crisp on the outside but fluffy in the centre, as opposed to the more waxy varieties which are useless. In Britain, the Maris Piper variety is, by far, the most common. Some favour King Edwards.

Today, most chips in fish and chip shops are double fried in the same oil or fat as the fish; in fish restaurants, they may be triple-fried.

 

FISH AND CHIPS

When, where and by whom fried fish and fried potatoes were combined into one dish is disputed. There is strong evidence that a Jewish immigrant, Joseph Malin, opened a fish and chip shop in east London, in or around 1860. But there is equally strong evidence for the first fish and chips being served by a Mr John Lees from a Lancashire, north England market stall  in 1863. Then again, there may have been others before that who remain unrecorded in any known documents.

 

Whatever, the meal soon caught on and by 1910, there were 25,000 fish and chip shops in Britain. In his Road to Wigan Pier (1937), George Orwell said that the reason the working classes in England didn't rise up and embrace communism was that the dish kept them happy, averting revolution.

Winston Churchill refused to ration fish and chips during WWII - not because fish was plentiful - it wasn't (fishing at sea was dangerous; the fishermen were as likely to catch a torpedo as a shoal of fish) - but as a morale booster. A sort of propaganda, if you like.

 

So, that deals with the fish and with the chips. The story is all over? Nowhere near. The complexity is only just beginning.

To be continued.

 

Image Credits

 

Fish and Chips Neon Sign in London; image by Victorgrigas; licenced under CC BY-SA 3.0

Billingsgate Market - Public Domain

 

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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21 hours ago, Kerala said:

There's a small trend to "manning up"  teas with mackerel pate, beef/horseradish sandwiches and suchlike offered alongside the clotted cream and jam. I thoroughly approve. I like one slice of a scone with clotted cream and jam, but two is too many.

 

 

I thought it was the presence of meaty things that made it High Tea, but apparently it is hot dishes and only in Scotland is more like an afternoon tea according to this (for what it's worth).

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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1 hour ago, haresfur said:

 

I thought it was the presence of meaty things that made it High Tea, but apparently it is hot dishes and only in Scotland is more like an afternoon tea according to this (for what it's worth).

What that article calls High Tea is generally just called Tea. I call it dinner. There's a lot of kerfuffle with supper/dinner/tea here.

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, Kerala said:

What that article calls High Tea is generally just called Tea. I call it dinner. There's a lot of kerfuffle with supper/dinner/tea here.

 

I call it linguistic diversity.  A good thing.  😆

Edited by liuzhou (log)

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3 hours ago, liuzhou said:

 

I call it linguistic diversity.  A good thing.  😆

It would seem in my family that the word tea to describe the evening meal is quickly being replaced by the word dinner. However, and I believe this is a well-known phenomenon, my niece who moved to Bulgaria continues to call the evening meal tea. Ex-pats keep alive traditions that have disappeared from the homeland. 

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Anna N said:

It would seem in my family that the word tea to describe the evening meal is quickly being replaced by the word dinner. However, and I believe this is a well-known phenomenon, my niece who moved to Bulgaria continues to call the evening meal tea. Ex-pats keep alive traditions that have disappeared from the homeland. 


Yes, I think you are correct to an extent.

Until I was 18 (so long ago!), dinner was the mid-day meal and tea the evening meal. Then I left Scotland to go to university and that all changed. "Tea" as a meal disappeared and I switched to lunch and dinner.

However, that part of my family who still remain in Scotland still have dinner at noon and tea in the evening. The practice remains strong there and across much of northern England.

I am the  "ex-pat" who hasn't kept the tradition. Guess there had to be one.

Not that I ever consider myself to be an "ex-pat". That seems to be a term reserved for white people who live abroad. Non-white people in the same situation are more often "immigrants" (often assumed to be "illegal") or refugees!

I met one idiot here in China who was, I'm sorry to say, Canadian, who whined on and on about how terrible the "immigrant problem" was back home, with particular reference to Chinese emigrants. He was a second generation immigrant to Canada working here in China illegally on a tourist visa - an illegal immigrant himself! But he couldn't see it! He was caught and his visa revoked. Bye-bye!

I am an immigrant to China and far from ashamed to say so.
 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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@liuzhou

You have opened a couple of cans of worms that are perhaps better left to another venue to empty out and untangle. 
Words matter and you make some good points and ugliness knows no bounds national or otherwise. But I hope we will quickly switch back to your fascinating take on British food myths. 

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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1 minute ago, Anna N said:

@liuzhou

You have opened a couple of cans of worms that are perhaps better left to another venue to empty out and untangle. 
Words matter and you make some good points and ugliness knows no bounds national or otherwise. But I hope we will quickly switch back to your fascinating take on British food myths. 

 

 I agree.

I'll witter on about fish and chips tomorrow, then move on to other myths.There is no shortage.

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I had High Tea 

 

in Victora , B.C.

 

indeed @ The Empress.

 

impressive.  stacks and stacks of

 

little sandwiches just keep coming.

 

it was over 50 years ago

 

but I remember it well.

Edited by rotuts (log)
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10 hours ago, Anna N said:

It would seem in my family that the word tea to describe the evening meal is quickly being replaced by the word dinner. However, and I believe this is a well-known phenomenon, my niece who moved to Bulgaria continues to call the evening meal tea. Ex-pats keep alive traditions that have disappeared from the homeland. 

 

Australians tend to go with "supper", I think because dinner is ambiguous as to time of day, although people usually say Christmas Lunch instead of Christmas Dinner.

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It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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