Important news from the exciting world of fish and chips! A world that is but a small newspaper-wrapped microcosm of the key issues facing you, our dear reader.
According to data company NPD, fish and chip shops enjoyed the biggest increase in traffic among takeaways in the last quarter of 2008 compared with the same period of 2007. An extra 3m people pushed open the swing doors on the steam, heat and aroma of their local chippy, taking the total to 107m. Revenues edged up 3.6 per cent to £306m.
If chicken soup is Jewish penicillin, fish and chips is multi-faith Prozac for a recession-hit Britain. The dish has a long tradition as a comfort food, which reached its zenith during the privations of the second world war and the subsequent austerity years. As I demolished a portion of Mr Akathiotis’s food on Monday – the cod fresh and succulent in its batter, the chips crisp and steaming – the world did indeed assume a happier aspect.
No news on the future of soup kitchens yet, but the economists I speak to suggest that the need for the revitalising effects of crispy batter and mushy peas is likely to rise.
CHEEKY television presenter Keith Chegwin presented Cardiff chip shop owner Zohaib Hussain with an award for the “perfect” fish and chips.
That’s a Welsh chippy, which counts as Northern. Southerners, bereft of real chip shops, have to make do with an inferior product. Still, with the recession likely to hit hard on those trips to Tuscany, perhaps a trip to sample the delicate cuisine of the Metro Fish Bar in Bury, in an exquisite and authentic Lancashire setting, would be in order. If not, learn to make your own chips here.
Rather fittingly, National Chip Week’s emblem is a heart with a piece of wood driven through it, illustrating one potential problem with this otherwise good news. Living near chip shops may be bad for you.
In other fish and chip news, animal rights campaigners have targeted a Porthcawl chip shop, calling on it to rename its fish as “sea kittens”.
The activists believe customers confronted with a cuddly “sea kitten” on the menu will be put off their fish supper.
But chip shop owners in South Wales were quick to rally behind Finnegan’s Fish Bar and owner Huw Jones, who joked: “I think whoever did this needs a good battering.”
In a bizarre letter, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) asked Mr Jones to change all mentions of fish in his shop to “sea kittens”, and to rename the shop “Finnigan’s Sea Kitten Bar.”
And that is all.