Often referred to as the national dish of England, fish and chips is an iconic dish. The very fact that it has its own national day is testament to that fact!
It was Sir Walter Raleigh that brought potatoes over in the 17th century and it wasn't long after that the French lay claim to frying them, yet both Lancashire and London credit themselves with being the first to serve the famous meal, fish and chips. Fried potatoes were a staple food item particularly in the north of England at the time.
The first fish and chip shop in the North of England is thought to have opened in Mossely, near Oldham, Lancashire, around 1863. However, in London, it is said that Joseph Malin, a Jewish immigrant, opened a fish and chip shop in Cleveland Way within the sound of Bow Bells in the 1860s.
In 1839, Charles Dickens mentioned a chip shop in Oliver Twist - I wouldn't mind some more!
In no time at all, the tasty treat had worked its way into all parts of British life, the territorial army began having it before a battle and in Leeds some shops had to employ bouncers to control demand!
A fish and chip supper was deemed such an important part of life for the British people in 1940s that it wasn't rationed during World War II for concern it would affect morale.
In 1999, we consumed nearly 300 million servings of fish and chips. That equates to six servings for every man, woman and child in the country. There are now around 8,500 fish and chip shops across the UK, eight for every McDonald’s, happily making fish and chips the nation’s favourite takeaway!
At Milestones Museum, in our famous Rooftops café, we make our own special version. By far our most popular order, we sold over 1,700 portions during our last full year open. We fry our fish with a good glug of Golden Poacher beer from the local Longdog Brewery. It’s a staple on our menu, so why not come on down and try a portion to celebrate this iconic national day!
This article was written by Alex Moore, Visitor and Learning Experience Manager for Milestones and Basing House.