Tuesday, October 11, 2011

UK's local dish...or at least in Sunderland

On my first trip to France many years ago I had McDonalds the first night because I was too scared to order anything from a menu that was written in French. This totally freaked out my wife who is a food fundi and would've done anything in her power to try all the local dishes. So, I eventually decided that even though it is more 'safe' and easy to order a Big Mac in most countries, I will at least try one local dish. I have been to the UK many times before, but never actually looked into what their "local dish" might be, probably because it is so similar to what we eat in South Africa. I have found that the food here compared to the way we have it in South Africa tastes a bit bland. No wonder the locals worship the likes of Jamie Oliver and that foul mouthed Gordon Ramsay who dared to add something with flavour to their food and then sold themselves to the world as "food experts". I think their are housewives in South Africa that make better food than those two, they just don't advertise themselves as well and will properly never receive the recognition they deserve.

So, I was looking around to see if I could find some restaurant that might give me an indication of what the people around here eat. I have seen the "English Breakfast" on the menus, but apart from that dark round thing on my plate which resembles a black ice hockey puck, everything else that is part of the "English" breakfast, you can find in almost any restaurant in South Africa that serves a descent breakfast. So, guided by what I could see along the main road on the Sunderland beach front, I figured that the local dish must be "Fish & Chips" then. People are prepared to stand in long queues waiting to be served and there are in a radius of 1 kilometer probably 10 Fish & Chips outlets selling exactly the same thing....fish, fish cakes, pork sausages....and chips. All deep-fried in oil. So I decided to join the queue and see what the local dish tastes like.

The prices are  more or less the same in all the outlets, between 4 and 5 quit for the "dish of the day". The fish all seems to be from the same species too...which is Cod. I have not seen Haddock around. If you want to add something on the side you would go for a deep fried pork sausage in batter, maybe deep-fried scampi in batter or simply leftovers from the batter that stays behind in the oil...aptly called "batter". I have to mentioned that the chips here are similar to what we call "slap (flacid) chips" in South Africa, and probably the best take-away chips I've ever had outside the street corner Portuguese Fish & Chips cafes from South Africa. The fish, which once you get through the batter, is not bad tasting either. When you eat it with the batter however, you consume enough vegetable oil to fuel a Massey Ferguson for 8 hours non-stop. There will definitely be strong competition once the world moves over to diesel fuel, and with the proposed "fat tax" that they want to introduce in the UK to fight obesity, don't be surprized if the price of UK's favourite dish rises to 10 quit overnight.

If you like to treat yourself every now and then, do try this. Even if it is just for the sake of the chips. If you are into health foods and weight conscious...stay clear! I am for sure having one last Fish & Chips before I return to South Africa next week....

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