Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Fish and Chips (My Blog Post on Pubs)

September 21, 2010 · 1 Comment

Since I’m most of my visits to pubs have been for meals, I’ll use my pub post to talk about the meal that I’ve ordered most often: fish and chips.  George Orwell describes food as something that varies from pub to pup: to some extent, this is still the case, however, fish and chips is a constant, and in fact it is very similar from one pub to the next.

The presentation of fish and chips in pubs shows a definite lack of pretension.  On the menus, the dish is usually labeled as just “fish and chips,” sometimes, “served with mushy peas.”  And what you get on your plate is just that: fried fish, sometimes over the chips, and sometimes next to them, with tarter sauce, but no more fancy sauces or toppings besides those such as catchup and vinegar that are already on the table.  Customers are free eat any of the condiments on the table with their fish and chips.  My first time ordering fish and chips, I was not sure what mushy peas would be, but they are exactly what their title suggests, definitely mushy, and not very much like vegetables, served simply in a small container or on the plate with the fish and chips.  At the Court, which much of our group has frequented, fish and chips meals are offered in medium and large serving sizes.  This, as well as the presence of vinegar, catchup etc. shows that customers are familiar with ordering fish and chips, and have specific preferences.

After ordering fish and chips at a few restaurants that are were pubs, I realized that the quality of the same meal decreased dramatically.  To be fair however, these restaurants were both in highly touristy areas, one by the British Museum, and the other in Bath.  At both, I was served more hard breading than fish, and the fish itself did not taste nearly as fresh.  Since the two fish dishes were so similar, I wonder if they got the fish frozen and already breaded from the same provider.  The fish and chips at both of these restaurants also cost over seven pounds, as compared to the five or six pounds that I usually spent on the same (and better) meal at pubs.  Clearly, the touristy restaurants do not need to worry about providing their customers with good food, because they get new customers who do not know where to find good food every day.  The difference in quality demonstrates that people who know where to go, and are truly looking for a good meal go to pubs.

Something else that I noticed about eating meals at pubs, is that although the food is simple, they are certainly not designed for quick meals.  After we order, food can take upwards of fifteen minutes to arrive.  When I ate lunch with a few other students during a forty-five minute lunch break, we were left with only five or ten minutes to eat after our food arrived, and inevitably we were a little late to get back to class.  I think that this is because pubs are truly places to hang out and to relax, instead of simply places to go for a meal.  Whether going for an evening out or just a plate of fish and chips for lunch, customers are expected to take their time, and enjoy socializing with the people they are there with, instead of just eating and leaving.

Categories: 2010 Emily · Uncategorized
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1 response so far ↓

  •   maryc // Sep 21st 2010 at 17:56

    I’ve only ordered fish and chips twice. Once it arrived quickly and wasn’t very tasty, and the other time it took longer to come and it was amazing. Now, the former I ordered from the pub around the corner from the hotel, and the latter I received from a pub in Stratford. You may be thinking that I’ve found an exception to your experience and observations, but no, it still applies! The first was from a less touristy pub actually even though it’s located here in London, and the second pub seemed to be an ostentatious touristy pub around the corner from the Shakespeare Museum.

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