Frying tonight

Posted on 17 Sep 2014, by Barry Verber

I remember as a young child sitting in the back seat of my father’s car, driving around the northern suburbs of Manchester, seeing a sign in a shop window written in large letters in what I knew then to be real writing, which read ” Frying Tonight “. I had no idea what was frying tonight or indeed why anyone would want to spend all night frying, since my only association with frying was an egg for breakfast, which seemed to be ready to eat in a couple of minutes. It was of course, fish and chips that were frying  during the evening rather than the night, so that they would be hot and fresh to eat off paper plates if seating was available or, more likely, wrapped tightly in newspaper and rushed home. I was never allowed to partake of these delights, I know not why. Today, I eat them regularly but only out, somehow taking them home has little appeal, and the number of outlets offering this form of take away has dwindled, at least in my area. Cod and haddock are still the staples and suggestions that one should move over to pollock have left me cold. A largely tasteless fish. I have recently eaten excellent meals in the Suffolk coastal resorts of Southwold and Walberswick in pubs both called the Anchor and both offering the freshest fish in light beer batter. Having said that, I also ate a good fried haddock last night ( evening ) at Kensington Place in Notting Hill though the dish lacked the normally ubiquitous mushy peas which, along with a good creamy tartar sauce, add significantly to the overall taste combination. I asked for the peas thinking that mine had been overlooked by the chef, but none were forthcoming, leaving the meal somewhat incomplete. The same meal, peas included, can also be had at Scotts and Sheekeys but at premium prices, however still far cheaper at those fine establishments than say a halibut steak or dover sole. It seems that the gradual dearth of good fish to be caught in our seas has made the best fish more expensive than the best meat, and, by all accounts, the fish is better for you, but perhaps not in its fried form, even though the latter still represents a wholesome meal at a reasonable price and one that is invariably spot hitting.

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