Traveling is one of the great ways to broaden your horizons when it comes to food and drinks. What better way is there to learn about people and different places than to sit down and have a meal or sample the local delicacies of the area.
In this section we’ll share what we’ve learned from our perspectives on the local cuisines to the wineries and breweries that we’ve been to.
Fish and Chips
When topics of conversation are mentioned, food is always my favorite. Eating great food with friends and family is one of life’s great pleasures. Too often we rush through a meal or put food into categories that can become unappreciated through their familiarity. Pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, sushi, tacos and even home cooking become just words and can forget the true enjoyment each of them can give and the reverence that they should inspire. Fish and Chips is one of those categories!
Yes, the United States and many other countries have Fish and Chips and there are even fast food chains dedicated to this irresistible combination of fried goodness, but the United Kingdom has elevated this food category to nothing short of a national institution. I would not be at all surprised if there was a Minister of Fish and Chips.
On our first trip abroad, we stayed in Wales and watched the locals pull up with a piece of newspaper to wrap up their own bit of “takeaway” heaven. Every little Welsh town seemed to have a castle ruin and a favorite Fish and Chips place. We have been back a few times since that first trip and watched the Fish and Chips establishments up their game each time. Tastings and contests are common, and you often see a certificate of achievement on the doors and windows of the places claiming that theirs is the best. And there are so many places to try that it’s an argument that could take a lifetime to settle. But what an argument it would be! You have the question of the fish (haddock, cod or pollock – or even something else!) and the potatoes themselves. Then you have the question of the batter (beer or no beer, dark or light, ale or lager) and the size of the potatoes. Do you taste it before the seasoning takes place (malt vinegar or not, what type, salt or plain), or do you season all the contenders to your liking? Even posing these questions has revealed what an amateur I actually am. After decades of partaking in this delicacy, I fear I am only a beginner on this path to Fish and Chips perfection. After all, I probably only have it when I’m in a place that is known for the dish and that doesn’t happen too often. In England it seems to be a way of life, almost a science. People study their Fish and Chips and appreciate the subtleties that are lost on us rank amateurs.
As we stopped in Whitby on a tour of the English coast with some dear friends of ours, we noticed that the various purveyors of this seafood-potato work of art now referenced the ship the fish was caught by and where, as well as the farm that the potatoes came from. That is a true sign of how seriously this national dish is taken. I applaud their devotion to this culinary art form.
Now, about the beverage of choice to accompany this wonderful meal….. Oh, we better save that for another day!