Tag Archives: Fish and Chips

National Potato Chips Day (USA)

Boulogne-Sur Mer Moules et Frites

“Everything (in the UK) comes with chips, which are French fries. You put vinegar on them.  Cookies are biscuits and potato chips are crisps” – Scott Walters

March 14th in the USA is Potato Chips Day which I confess makes me smirk because in the USA they don’t even know what a potato chip is so I am going to take a look at how people prefer to eat their chips and watch out because I am going to award points for style.

I posted previously on eating fried potatoes in a Friterie in Northern France so it is only really polite to start with our nearest continental neighbours.

Friteries are a feature of this part of northern Europe and are a simple place, usually outside on wooden benches, to buy and eat French fries accompanied by a selection of traditional sauces and accompaniments.  The thin strips of potato are fried twice, first to drive out the moisture and second to achieve the essential golden crispness of the French Fry.

You might expect the French, along with close neighbours the Belgians and the Dutch to know a thing or two about chips and they do make a good job of cooking them it has to be grudgingly said but as soon as they are served up they demonstrate a dreadful lack of culinary style and taste.

French Fries with Mayonnaise

They immediately apply a dollop of horribly sloppy mayonnaise!

Now mayonnaise is fine on lettuce leaves or as an ingredient in a McDonalds burger, it gives them a bit of taste after all, but it really shouldn’t be smeared all over a helping of lovingly prepared  potato chips and I am reminded here about a scene from the film Pulp Fiction and a conversation between Jules and Vincent…

… “Do you know what they put on their French Fries in Holland instead of Ketchup?”  – “What? “ – “Mayonnaise” – “No Way.” – “Yes, I’ve seen them do it man they f*****g drown them in that s**t.”

Marks out of 10 for the French and the Belgians and the Dutch – 6 and that includes a bonus point because (as you can see in the first picture) at least they call them chips!

However, if you think that is bad then let’s cross the River Rhine into Germany where they serve up a variation called pommes rot-weis (potatoes red and white) named rather unimaginatively it is said after the colour scheme on level-crossing barriers and this toxic combination is achieved by smothering the poor chips in not just the evil mayonnaise but a good slug of tomato ketchup for good measure which has the effect of turning the classic dish into a sort of Salvador Dali gastro-interpretation.

I don’t know about the colour of level crossing barriers more like the rags and blood of a barbers pole if you ask me.

Marks out of 10 for the Germans – 4.

pommesrotweissgal

As I mentioned in my previous post Spain makes a creditable claim to be origin of chips so let’s head south now across the Pyrenees into Iberia.

Spain has patatas aioli which is a mayonnaise with garlic and having already dismissed mayonnaise as inappropriate then the addition of the foul tasting noxious onion bulb is not going to improve it one taste bud notch in my opinion; and then there is patatas bravas with a spicy sauce whose ingredients vary from region to region.

Generally I am a big fan of Spanish Tapas but my recommendation would have to be to avoid the patatas bravas at all costs.

patatas-bravas

I have two issues with them. First of all they don’t even look like chips and instead of being long and slender they are served in solid lumps of fried potato and secondly the bravas sauce is often so fierce that it completely spoils the dish all together and you can add to that the fact that it frequently (depending on region) includes a whole host of odd ingredients such as chorizo, baked chicken or fried fish, none of which in my opinion should be anywhere near a sauce for simple chips –  if you want to muck about with vegetables then stick to pumpkins.

Marks out of 10 for the Spanish – 3.

Hastily retreating to the United Kingdom I am first going to head north to Scotland despite the fact that Scots deep fry chocolate so cannot really be taken seriously in a cooking sense.  In Glasgow and Edinburgh they have a fondness for gravy with chips and I find that odd because in my culinary opinion gravy should only really be served up with the weekly Sunday roast.

smiffy-s

Having said that it is really rather tasty so marks out of 10 for the Scots – 7.

Which brings me back rather neatly to England and especially my home town, the fishing port of Grimsby.  They know a thing or two about chips in Grimsby let me tell you and there is a chip shop in every street – sometimes two and people there know best how to cook them and to eat them.

grimsby-fish-and-chips

Never mind the fancy restaurant trend for twice or even thrice fried potatoes they just cut them up and sling them in a vat of boiling fat or preferably beef dripping and then serve them piping hot and crispy on the outside with delicate fluffy middles with the only two accompaniments that chips really need – a generous sprinkle of salt and lashings of good vinegar.  No mayonnaise, no gravy, no tomato sauce and definitely no curry!

chips

Marks out of 10 for the English – 10 – of course.

So what about the USA you might ask.  Well to be honest I have dismissed the New World completely.  Is that fair?  Challenge me if you dare!

Whilst I am prepared to concede that they know how to prepare French Fries in McDonalds and other similar places the bottom line is simply this – they don’t even know what chips are, they think they come in a foil packet.   Americans please take note – these are not potato chips they are potato crisps!

Potato Chips (Crisps)

My research informs me that in Australia they cannot make their minds up whether they are potato crisps or potato chips.  Let me help my antipodean pals on this point – these are potato crisps!

Anyway marks out of 10 for the USA – 0.  This might seem a little harsh but the rules are that you have got to compare apples with apples!

So let’s finally go north to Canada

“in Eastern Canada there is poutine with curds of cheese and gravy. None for me thanks but there people are gaga for the stuff”…

My blogging pal Sue from “Travel Tales of Life”

Graphic content warning – do not proceed beyond this point if you have a weak stomach or are of a nervous disposition…

…because this is Poutine from Canada…

Poutine

When I first heard of this I was convinced that it was some sort of wind-up, but apparently not, you can even get it in McDonalds, but thankfully only in Canada…

McDonalds Poutine

Try eating that in your car without making a mess of your shirt and trousers while you are driving.

Marks out of 10 for Canada – minus 10

Anyway, enough of all this, let me tell you my favourite.  In this picture taken in France my mum has gone for the tomato ketchup option and is wagging her fry around to prove it.  Alan has kept things simple and luckily is not wagging his fry at anyone, my brother Richard, who has a bit of a reputation for wagging his fry, has gone for the classic salt and vinegar combo and although I am not in the picture (obviously I was taking it) you can clearly see my preferred accompaniment is a bottle of cold beer – just don’t mistake it for the vinegar and pour it over the chips!

So, over to you, How Do You Eat Yours, what is your favourite accompaniment?

Wissant Friterie France

More About Chips, Crisps or Fries (and Bananas)

It’s Nice to Feel Useful (10)

  

Now and again I look back over my posts to review what has been going on.  One of the things that I like to do is to take a look at the search questions that seem to bring web-surfers by the site and take a look at some of the more bizarre and unusual.

royal garden party

One of my most successful posts is about the day I attended a Buckingham Palace Garden Party and I get lots of odd Google referrals about this one.  So far this year my favourites just have to be:

  1. who uses diplomatic tent at royal garden party buck palace

I have to say that this is a really easy one to answer – it will be diplomats!  At the Garden Party there are a range of tents all arranged in an appropriate hierarchical order.  At the bottom are the common tents for people like me and you.  Then there are tents for important people like the Prime Minister and his guests and then tents for foreign diplomats and at the very top are lavish affairs for visiting royalty who just might happen to drop in!

  1. how much does it cost to hire Buckingham palace for a garden party

…and I have to say that I  am fairly certain that the Queen of England is not so short of cash that she needs to hire her back garden out for a corporate  event.

But my favourite this time is…

  1. This year’s theme for Buckingham Palace party?

A garden party is a formal affair where guests where their very best clothes. The day that I went there were gentlemen in tails and top hats, women in floral dresses and elaborate hats and it reminded me of a scene from a nineteenth century painting of a sophisticated social event.  And there were so many military uniforms that it was almost like being in an episode of Foyle’s War!

Surely I do not have to explain that  a garden party at Buckingham Palace is not a fancy dress party but then again perhaps someone should have advised Prince Harry when he thought it was amusing to attend a society party dressed as a Nazi!

Prince Harry as a Nazi

I also get a lot of referrals from questions about behaviour – here are a couple of tips about not what to do…

Rowdy Racegoers

Next I have some rather bizarre geography questions:

  1. Is Benidorm in north Europe

And the answer is no, it is in Southern Europe and hopefully my post about Benidorm helped to correct this misconception. 

Benidorm Spain

  1. Liechtenstein is it in Austria or Germany

Actually it is in neither, it is in Switzerland.  It is a boring place, hardly worth visiting but I went there once in 2008 and stayed overnight near the capital Vaduz.  I have to say that I am not surprised that anyone may not know exactly where Liechtenstein is because it is an instantly forgettable place which I once included in my list of disappointing places to visit.

Vaduz Liechtenstien Concrete

“It occurred to me that there is no reason to go to Liechtenstein except to say that you have been there.  If it were simply part of Switzerland… nobody would dream of visiting it” – Bill Bryson,  ‘Neither here Nor there’

  1. where is Europe located next to Italy

What a wonderfully stupid question.  It is like asking where is USA next to Texas? Where is Canada next to Calgary? Or where is Australia next to Melbourne?

Actually, Italy was the first European country that I ever visited when I travelled to Sorrento in 1976!

Italy Postcard

Mine is not a food blog but I am always happy to help out with culinary questions whenever I can and I like this one… should I put vinegar on the chips or not?

I include this one even though I do not find this not such a stupid question.  What you should put on your chips is a matter of personal choice and a subject that I debated quite recently when I considered the origin of frites.

chips

Staying with the food theme I am going to finish this current round up of bizarre search questions with my favourite so far this year:

What was General Franco’s favourite food?

I am sure that this is a question that only his personal chef could realistically be expected to answer with any authority but my suggestions are…

  • Skewered Republicans
  • Roasted Liberals
  • BBQ’d Communists

Some time ago I tried to visit General Franco’s tomb but the Spanish don’t like Franco any more and it was closed at the time on account of the fact that it was being demolished.

When General Franco met Führer Adolf Hitler I can only assume that either they couldn’t agree on the menu or they were both on a diet…

Franco meets Hitler

Thanks for reading and I will do another round up when I have enough material…

… Have you spotted any bizarre search questions bringing unexpected visitors to your blog posts? – Do Tell!

Festival Days – National Potato Chip Day (USA)

Potato Chips (Crisps)

My thanks to Beth from ‘I didn’t have my glasses on’ to alerting me to the fact that in the USA 14th March is National Potato Chip Day.

Are they kidding!

Whilst I am prepared to concede that they know how to prepare French Fries in McDonalds and other similar places the bottom line is simply this – in North America they don’t even know what chips are, they think they come in a foil packet.   Americans and Canadians please take note – these are not potato chips they are potato crisps!

Walkers Potato Crisps

These are chips…

chips

I did some research on this recently…

Read the Full Story…

Three Trains – I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside!

cleethorpes postcard

At the entrance to the pier we waited at the appointed place for the tourist train to arrive and take us the mile or so to the far end of the promenade.

Next to cruising, the second holiday form of holiday transport that I hate most of all are those annoying tourist trains which are now an irritating feature of almost everywhere you go.  I once vowed never to go on one but now I have to eat my words and make concessions to my grandchildren.

The road train arrived and made slow progress along the ‘shared space’ road/pavement at the back of the beach.  It was a typical English summer day at the seaside – overcast and a little cool with the sea about a mile away at low tide and only visible through a powerful pair of binoculars but there were some hardy people toughing it out and resolutely determined to spend a day on the beach.

Railway posters of the 1920’s show pictures of fit healthy young people playing beach games on golden sand next to an inviting azure sea where sailing dingies float gently by all under a blue sky and blazing sun without a body piercing or an unsightly tattoo in sight but it is rarely like that now, if indeed it ever was.

RAIL091

I don’t understand why people go to a place like Cleethorpes for a holiday.  The weather is unreliable, the sea is permanently cold and everything is expensive. Really expensive.  Half an hour in the amusement arcade can take a heavy toll on the wallet, the funfair isn’t cheap, there are the pointless rides to contend with and then the donkeys.  £2.50 for a five minute one hundred yard trudge up the beach hardly represents good value for money in my book.

It is surely so much  better to get a cheap flight to Spain, send the children to the kids’ club and sit in the sun and drink cheap San Miguel and probably spend less money.    I often feel an urge to walk across to point this out to people as they sit shivering behind a wind-break or sheltering under an umbrella being turned inside out by the wind but of course I never do.

Cleethorpes Beach

The final stop was at the narrow gauge railway terminus where I purchased tickets to board the train which was already waiting at the platform and we squeezed ourselves into tiny carriages being pulled by a wheezy engine belching smoke that was preparing to depart for its lazy two mile journey along the sea front.

Railways in Britain are a national obsession.  When the Victorians weren’t building piers they were building railways.  And by the time that they were nationalised in 1948 there were simply too many of them to be economical.  So in the 1960’s, based on a document called the ‘Beeching Report’, the Government set about a reform programme which resulted in thousands of miles of track being dismantled and hundreds of stations being closed.

Railway enthusiasts went into collective shock but quickly rallied and almost immediately started organising themselves into preservation societies and very soon they were relaying railway  lines almost as quickly as British Rail contractors were tearing them up.  Now, every weekend these devotees of track and steam gather together to stoke boilers, grease points and polish name plates and to run engines on restored lines or on narrow gauge railways all over the country.  It is almost like an act of shared defiance against the policies of the national government

Enthusiasts will go to great lengths to build and preserve railways. The Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway was constructed from track and stock salvaged from the potato fields of the county where they were once used to transport tubers from the fields to the packing sheds at harvest time.

Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway

I like narrow gauge railways and steam engines and the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway is an agreeable little ride that sweeps past the boating lake, the paddling pool, the civic gardens and the dilapidated wooden huts which stand at the back of the beach as reminders of a bygone seaside age.  At the eastern terminus we stayed on board as the engine switched ends and then made the return journey back to the promenade where we stopped for ice cream and slush puppies.

My grandson loved the trains and when it was time to go back to the station I offered a return journey on the road train.  With the wisdom of a two year old and without any hesitation he corrected me and said – “That’s not a train granddad, it’s a bus”.  How smart is that!

Back at the pier I was now faced with dealing with my rash promise to think about a pointless ride.  I resisted.  The children staged a rebellion and climbed into a Postman Pat van and pushed the buttons and it magically sparked into life.  The ride over they pushed the buttons again and it worked a second time.  These pointless rides are usually 50p a go or three rides for £1 so someone had been daft enough to put £1 in the slot and only take one ride. A win/win situation I thought and congratulated myself, they got the ride and I didn’t waste any money.

The Grinch

My eldest asked if they could go on another and I said no they had been on one and that was enough (that is mean I agree) she said that she understood that but pointed out –  “yes, but you didn’t have to pay for it granddad”.  How smart is that!

Admitting defeat I paid for a pointless ride and then we went back to the station and caught the Trans Pennine Express back to Grimsby to find a fish and chip shop for a tea-time treat.

They know a thing or two about chips in Grimsby let me tell you and there is a chip shop in every street – sometimes two and people there know best how to cook them and to eat them.  The reason there are so many is that Grimsby was once the biggest fishing port in the World, everyone had fish and housewives used to take their fillets to a chip shop to have it cooked for a penny.

Cleethorpes Beach sand Castles

Chips, Crisps or Fries – How Do You Eat Yours?

Boulogne-Sur Mer Moules et Frites

“Everything comes with chips, which are French fries. You put vinegar on them.  Cookies are biscuits and potato chips are crisps” – Scott Walters

Just a short time ago I wrote a post where I speculated on the origin of the humble dish of potato chips or, depending upon dining or geographical preference, French fries.  There were an unusually high number of comments  and responses (more than two) so blatantly exploiting unexpected success I thought I would follow it up and carry out some more research and punctuate the results with some personal reflections.

This time I am going to take a look at how people prefer to eat their chips and watch out because I am going to award points for style.

The post was my report on eating fried potatoes in a Friterie in Northern France so it is only really polite to start with our nearest continental neighbours.

Friteries are a feature of this part of northern Europe and are a simple place, usually outside on wooden benches, to buy and eat French fries accompanied by a selection of traditional sauces and accompaniments.  The thin strips of potato are fried twice, first to drive out the moisture and second to achieve the essential golden crispness of the French Fry.

You might expect the French, along with close neighbours the Belgians and the Dutch to know a thing or two about chips and they do make a good job of cooking them it has to be grudgingly said but as soon as they are served up they demonstrate a total lack of culinary style and taste.

French Fries with Mayonnaise

They immediately apply a dollop of horribly sloppy mayonnaise!

Now mayonnaise is fine on lettuce leaves or as an ingredient in a McDonalds burger, it gives them a bit of taste after all, but it really shouldn’t be smeared all over a helping of lovingly prepared  potato chips and I am reminded here about a scene from the film Pulp Fiction and a conversation between Jules and Vincent…

… “Do you know what they put on their French Fries in Holland instead of Ketchup?”  – “What? “ – “Mayonnaise” – “No Way.” – “Yes, I’ve seen them do it man they f*****g drown them in that s**t.”

Marks out of 10 for the French and the Belgians and the Dutch – 6.

However, if you think that is bad then let’s cross the River Rhine into Germany where they serve up a variation called pommes rot-weis (potatoes red and white) named rather unimaginatively it is said after the colour scheme on level-crossing barriers and this toxic combination is achieved by smothering the poor chips in not just the evil mayonnaise but a good slug of tomato ketchup for good measure which has the effect of turning the classic dish into a sort of Salvador Dali gastro-interpretation.  I don’t know about the colour of level crossing barriers more like the rags and blood of a barbers pole if you ask me.

Marks out of 10 for the Germans – 4.

pommesrotweissgal

As I mentioned in my previous post Spain makes a creditable claim to be origin of chips so let’s head south now across the Pyrenees into Iberia.

Spain has patatas aioli which is a mayonnaise with garlic and having already dismissed mayonnaise as inappropriate then the addition of the foul tasting noxious onion bulb is not going to improve it one taste bud notch in my opinion; and then there is patatas bravas with a spicy sauce whose ingredients vary from region to region. Generally I am a big fan of Spanish Tapas but my recommendation would have to be to avoid the patatas bravas at all costs.

patatas-bravas

I have two issues with them. First of all they don’t even look like chips and instead of being long and slender they are served in solid lumps of fried potato and secondly the bravas sauce is often so fierce that it completely spoils the dish all together and you can add to that the fact that it frequently (depending on region) includes a whole host of odd ingredients such as chorizo, baked chicken or fried fish, none of which in my opinion should be anywhere near a sauce for simple chips –  if you want to muck about with vegetables then stick to pumpkins.

Marks out of 10 for the Spanish – 3.

Hastily retreating to the United Kingdom I am first going to head north to Scotland despite the fact that Scots deep fry chocolate so cannot really be taken seriously in a cooking sense.  In Glasgow and Edinburgh they have a fondness for gravy with chips and I find that odd because in my culinary opinion gravy should only really be served up with the weekly Sunday roast.

smiffy-s

Having said that it is really rather tasty so marks out of 10 for the Scots – 7.

Which brings me back rather neatly to England and especially my home town, the fishing port of Grimsby.  They know a thing or two about chips in Grimsby let me tell you and there is a chip shop in every street – sometimes two and people there know best how to cook them and to eat them.

Grimsby Fish & Chips

Never mind the fancy restaurant trend for twice or even thrice fried potatoes they just cut them up and sling them in a vat of boiling fat or preferably beef dripping and then serve them piping hot and crispy on the outside with delicate fluffy middles with the only two accompaniments that chips really need – a generous sprinkle of salt and lashings of good vinegar.  No mayonnaise, no gravy, no tomato sauce and definitely no curry!

chips

Marks out of 10 for the English – 10 – of course.

So what about the USA and Canada you might ask.  Well to be honest I have dismissed the New World completely.  Is that fair?  Challenge me if you dare!

Whilst I am prepared to concede that they know how to prepare French Fries in McDonalds and other similar places the bottom line is simply this – they don’t even know what chips are, they think they come in a foil packet.   Americans and Canadians please take note – these are not potato chips they are potato crisps!

My research informs me that in Australia they cannot make their minds up whether they are potato crisps or potato chips.  Let me help my antipodean pals on this point – they are potato crisps!

Potato Chips (Crisps)

Anyway marks out of 10 for the North Americans – 0.  This might seem a little harsh but the rules are that you have got to compare apples with apples!

Anyway, enough of all this, let me tell you my favourite.  In this picture taken in France my mum has gone for the tomato ketchup option and is wagging her fry around to prove it.  Alan has kept things simple and luckily is not wagging his fry at anyone, my brother Richard, who has a bit of a reputation for wagging his fry, has gone for the classic salt and vinegar combo and although I am not in the picture (obviously I was taking it) you can clearly see my preferred accompaniment is a bottle of cold beer – just don’t mistake it for the vinegar and pour it over the chips!

So, over to you, How Do You Eat Yours, what is your favourite accompaniment?

Wissant Friterie France