Monday, November 5, 2018


Look, I don’t want to go all Proust and Plato on you but I’ve been eating a lot of fish and chips lately and I’ve been having notions that are both Proustian and Platonic. And what I’ve been thinking is that every time you eat fish and chips it sends you searching back through the lost time, and you think about all the other fish and chips you’ve eaten in your life.  These were in Walton on the Naze a year or two back:

And when you’re with other people you find yourself in conversations about the best and worst, the most surprising fish and chips you ever ate.  You talk about the ones you had when you were a kid in Blackpool, or somebody says his uncle used to run a fish and chip shop, and so on

I always think about the time my mum sent me to the local fish and chip shop to buy “two fish and chips,” and I had to wait a long time in the queue and I noticed that everybody else was ordering “fish and chips twice” so when my turn came, that’s what I asked for.  I wanted to fit in.  But when it came time to pay, my mum hadn’t given me enough money. The bloke behind the counter was surprisingly sympathetic and let me have the order “cut price” as it were.  
But when I got home I was in terrible, terrible trouble from my mum.  She’d wanted two fish and one chips, not two fish and two lots of chips, and clearly I was and a wastrel and a bad son.  My mother wasn’t always blessed with a good sense proportion.

This isn't the actual fish and chip shop, but this is from Sheffield at about that time.

Anyway, here are some other fish and chips I have known in recent times. These were from the Pikey on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.

These at H. Salt, on Hollywood Boulevard:

These are from Riverside Fish and Chips in Manningtree, eaten outdoors by the estuary:.

And these I had at the weekend in a rather fancy pub/restaurant off the Kings Road called the Coopers Arms.  

They looked pretty appetizing and the girl behind the bar who served them said, “Is there anything else I can get you?”  And I said, “Yes please, some vinegar.” She disappeared for a couple of minutes and came back and said they didn’t have any vinegar.  Really?  I mean really.  How is that even possible?   She gave me a couple of extra slices of lemon but it wasn’t the same.

And naturally all this got me thinking about Platonic ideals.  Is there a perfect form of fish and chips?  I think there is.  I think we all carry with us an ideal noition of fish and chips that allows us to seethe imperfect examples of fish and chips that we are confronted with in the real world.  Vinegar is definitely part of the ideal.   

Frankly, I suspect Proust wasn't a great lover of fish and chips.

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