Aren’t fish and chips just delicious this time of year, especially when the sun is coming out and you’re ready to chill outside? One of my favorite memories eating fish and chips was when I graduated high school in Seattle and two of my best friends and I got to travel to London, Copenhagen, and Berlin for a few weeks. We were sitting outside in London back in June 2012, when Summer Olympic fever took over Trafalgar Square and the city was highly energized from The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (the royals were pictured literally everywhere you walked!) After doing a little window shopping, we bundled up and stopped for drinks at The Ice Bar (yes—a bar made entirely of ice), and headed down to Piccadilly Circle later that night, where we caught a glimpse of Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield promoting “The Amazing Spider-Man” on the red carpet. That trip was, by far, a memory of a lifetime.
Photo Credits: Meagan Nelson
Because this blog focuses on everything that makes up American culture, this post will put a spotlight one aspect of America that I am most proud of, and that is the melting pot of cultures that can be found in this country. (Shout out to my international readers! Thank you J) Last week, I had the honor of interviewing Huffington Post contributor, Cambridge graduate, and Blue Republican radio show founder, Robin Koerner, about what it was like for him to come to America, differences between American and British culture, and his thoughts on our immigration system. Robin is one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, who is one of the few people I know who can speak about political issues in a truly genuine way that can make anyone, regardless of race, gender, class, or background, understand and sympathize. Now, let’s learn all about fish and chips, and embark on a British adventure. Enjoy! xoxo
Photo Credit: Royalty Free Image
Fish and Chips and Pop Culture
Even though Fish and Chips are considered to be a classic dish from the UK, the dish has integrated itself very naturally within American culture, as several authentic fish and chip shops have popped up across the nation, and the dish is eaten at any time of the year.
There is no better place, perhaps, to experience a delicious plate of fish and chips than in a place that feels like you are a tourist of the United Kingdom itself…The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! While America went wild over the beloved magical universe featuring Hogsmeade Village and Diagon Alley that opened up in 2010 and 2014 in Orlando, the nation has even MORE to get excited about…
Photo Credit: Meagan Nelson
Harry Potter actress Evanna Lynch announced on December 8, 2015 that Harry’s world would be making its way out west to the heart of the film industry (Hollywood!) on April 7th, 2016 (just a few weeks away!) While the theme park in Universal Studios Hollywood has not officially opened up yet, here are a few fun facts about the park I was able to gather based on research told by a few lucky visitors who have gotten to experience the park’s “soft openings,” or sneak peeks, happening now:
Photo Credit: ABC7
- Visitors can dine on fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, bangers and mash, turkey legs, and, of course, butterbeer, in The Three Broomsticks restaurant, which will be a replica of the same British pub based on the films in the Orlando theme park. Fun fact: the blocked-off staircases in the restaurant lead to REAL rooms!
- The shops in Hogsmeade village will include Ollivanders wand shop, Zonko’s joke shop, Honeydukes candy store, Dervish and Banges clothing store, Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods gift shop, Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, Gladrags Wizardwear and Owl Post stationery shop
- The universe will feature one of the best theme park rides in amusement history, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, (which is rumored to be a 3-D experience!) The ride will be located inside a replica of Hogwarts castle and will showcase some of the actual props from the film set, such as the table and chalkboard from the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom!
- The Flight of the Hippogriff roller coaster will be 50 feet taller, 1,30 feet wider, and 40 mph faster than the same ride at the Universal Orlando theme park
- The Hogwarts Express at Universal Studios Hollywood will feature more green-screen scenes of Harry and friends in each of the cars, just like the train at Universal Studios Florida, however, this one will feature more of the actual props from the films, including the actual luggage racks used on the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films!
- A red carpet premiere, likely to feature many of the stars from the Harry Potter films, is set to take place on April 5th. Mark your calendars!
Grinberg, Emanuella. “Butterbeer and more: What to Eat at New Harry Potter Theme Park.” CNN. Cable News Network, 19 February 2016. Web. 10 March 2016.
MacDonald, Brady. “What to expect when the Wizarding World at Universal Studios Hollywood opens in April.” The Los Angeles Times. The Los Angeles Times, 14 January 2016. Web. 10 March 2016.
“30 Exclusive First Look Photos of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.” Entertainment Weekly. Entertainment Weekly, Inc., N.D. Web. 10 March 2016.
Fish and Chips and History
Fish and chips first began as a tradition of cooking potatoes and fried fish together in the 17th century. Fried fish was first discovered by Jewish immigrants, who later brought their creation from Spain, to Portugal, then to London. In fact, Charles Dickens even references eating fish and chips in his 1859 novel, A Tale of Two Cities. He mentions ‘Husky chips of potatoes, fried with some reluctant drops of oil’. American President, Thomas, Jefferson, also enjoyed eating fish and chips during his visits to the Capitol in the 18th century.
The concept of potatoes as chips originated in the Belgian Greenmarket, and was sold by immigrant Edward De Gernier in the late 1800s.
Over in Ireland, legend has it the first fish and chips were sold by an Italian immigrant, Giuseppe Cervi, who mistakenly stepped off an America-bound ship at Cobh (then called Queenstown) in County Cork and walked all the way to Dublin (“As British as Fish and Chips”). He started by selling fish and chips outside Dublin pubs from a handcart (“As British as Fish and Chips”).
When he later found his way to Brunswick Street (now Pearse Street), his wife Palma would ask customers “Uno di questa, uno di quella?” This phrase (meaning “one of this, one of the other”) entered the vernacular in Dublin as “one and one”, which is still a way of referring to fish and chips in the city (“As British As Fish and Chips”).
Photo Credit: Royalty Free Image
By the 1870s, fish and chips began to spread to the industrial towns in the Pennines in order to serve as hot meals for the workers producing cotton and wool. “The development of trawl fishing in the North Sea provided unprecedented supplies of white fish (“As British As Fish and Chips”). The development of the rail network, connecting ports such as Grimsby and Whitby to the Nation’s major industrial cities meant that fresh fish could now be readily transported to the heavily populated areas with legions of hungry workers to feed (‘As British As Fish and Chips”).
Ever since the 1880s, fish and chips then became a satisfying staple for families who did not have the financial means to feed their families properly otherwise. Between 1910 and 1927, about 35,000 fish and chip shops popped up across the country.
In fact, during World Wars I fish and chips were credited with helping the soldiers win the war because the rations helped sustain the starving men during the trying times. Following this, in World War II, British soldiers called out ‘fish’ and the response or password was ‘chips’ in an effort to identify each other during the D-Day landings (“As British As Fish and Chips”).
Today, fish and chip shops remain to be some of the world’s most proudly owned family businesses, and 10,500 shops operate within Britain alone (“As British As Fish and Chips”). While the “proper” way to cook a British chip is to cook the chip twice with two vats of oil at different temperatures at popular chip shops like Frankie’s Fish shop in the British Isles, Americans prefer to eat their fish and chips with steak fries, at different fish and chip shops, such as Ivar’s in Seattle (my favorite!) or The Shakespeare in New York City. What’s YOUR favorite spot to grab a plate of fish and chips?
“As British As Fish and Chips.” Federation of Fish Friers. Pure Energy, N.D. Web. 9 March 2016.
“America’s Best Fish and Chips for 2014.” The Daily Meal. Spanfeller Media Group, Inc. N.D. Web. 9 March 2016.
“Why Can’t I Get English Chips in America?” Yelp. Yelp, Inc. 10 July 2007. Web. 9 March 2016.
Fish and Chips and Politics
Below is the lively chat with Robin Koerner (pictured below) about coming to America, British culture, and America’s immigration system 🙂
Photo Credit: The Daily Bell