When I was a kid trying to survive my childhood in St. Catharines, Ontario, we didn’t have many customs or traditions that were fit to be discussed outside of family court.
With one quasi-exception.
My parents, like most barely-middle-class folks in the Seventies, were hamstrung by budgetary concerns when it came to meal choices. In other words we were broke, though I never really noticed that, unlike other kid’s homes, the milk in our house would blow away if someone left the front door open while you were opening the package. (Think about it or consult the Google, kids.) However, there were times that we managed to scrape together enough dough to afford to eat outside of the home.
To be clear, when I say, “eat outside of the home”, I don’t mean we crashed a wedding (we were doing that long before Vaughan and Wilson) and when I say we “picked up a meal”, I’m not referring to a dine and dash. No, I mean we occasionally walked a few blocks to a neighborhood establishment where we retrieved a delicacy that we carried home and ate in the comfort (and insanity) of our own dining room. And by “we”, I mean me. And Dog help me if my young legs didn’t get me home before the food cooled…
#75: Fish ‘n Chips.
As a devout Whovian (that’s a Doctor Who fan, though I did grow up to eventually move out of my parents’ basement in order to finally kiss a girl who wasn’t under the influence of cough medicine) who was obsessed with all things British, I fell in food love with this dish instantly.
Just the name alone makes my stomach growl with hunger…
And it was served in newspaper! My young mind was boggled.
To clarify, in my day fish and chip restaurants traditionally wrapped their product in newspaper, or, if they were wimps, with an inner layer of white paper for hygiene (like we cared about hygiene in the Seventies!) and an outer layer of newspaper or blank newsprint for insulation and to absorb grease, which, incidentally, was the best part. Nowadays the use of newspaper for wrapping has almost ceased on grounds of “hygiene”. There’s that dreaded word again; I shower twice a day (more if I watch too much political coverage) so I understand the need to be clean, but dining should be an experience, not a a clinical trial!
Answer me this, could there be anything cooler than delicious food that’s wrapped in newsprint featuring comic strips? The first time I had fish ‘n chips and saw that greasy image of the Spider-Man comic strip? Let’s just say that it was the only thing that even came close to resembling how I felt about seeing Cindy Day in a training bra and leave it at that.
Fish have always been considered “brain food” and French fries are a connection to childhood, so combining them allows one to be both grown-up and childlike simultaneously. I’d like to see a salad beat that.
I’m now grown-up (ish) and have a family of my own that I am happy to report is nowhere near as messed-up as the one I barely survived. It’s taken decades but we now have a family tradition that makes me feel like a kid again every Friday night. The fish ‘n chips aren’t wrapped in Spider-Man comics but they’re every bit as delicious and they make me happy to be alive.
What more could you ask for from your supper?
See you in the lobby, kids…