Monday, November 2, 2015

Fish & Chips & Stuff

I’d been eating fish & chips all my life before I really ate fish & chips.

As a kid I assumed that the dish had been invented by Long John Silver when his pirating days were over and he retired to America to open a chain of fast food restaurants from coast to coast.

(That guy might have been a dirty pirate who loved to loot and pillage but if he could invent food this good he couldn’t have been all bad. Besides, Long John had clearly paid for his sins. Check out that eye patch, peg leg and hook hand. Not to mention the fact that he’s saddled with the burden of parrot ownership. Those birds are filthy squawking jerks who live forever.) I didn’t learn until later that the combination of deep fried cod or halibut and chipped potatoes goes back 150 years or more in Britain.

Fast forward a few year more years. I was doing my stand-up act at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland when my wife and I discovered a little chip shop near my venue. It might have been the post-show euphoria talking but the authentic fish & chips I got that night was one of the best meals I’d ever had. Wrapped up to go in a piece of newspaper and eaten on the street, the fries and the fish had to pretty much be consumed as a combination in the same bite. And I’d covered the whole thing in something called “brown sauce,” a tangy condiment akin to U.S. steak sauce that turned out to be amazing. I’d always used ketchup on my fast food fish & chips but brown sauce was better and bites composed of fish & chips & sauce were perfect.  And it pretty much ruined Long John Silvers for me for a good long while. I missed the real thing. I missed that damned brown sauce.

I still haven’t been back to the UK but I have found something a little closer to home. Turns out there’s an authentic British chip shop run by an authentic Brit called Mac’s in Santa Barbara, California. They make the real deal and they serve it with brown sauce. Was it as good as I remembered? Nothing’s going to compare to the magic of walking through the Edinburgh streets at night having just killed at the biggest performing arts festival in the world eating that combination of food. But Mac’s came close. It really did. I highly recommend it.

Can't talk… Eating 

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