Food for thought
by Samuel Jones
Plenty is bound up in the story of the fish and its relationship to the chip. As the article points out, the dish's changing status tells us a lot about changing consumption habits in the UK today. It can also tell us a good deal about the aesthetics of gentrification, a world in which 'scraps', formerly handed out to people unable to afford fish and chips, now appear dusted in paprika and selling at £2 a portion.
Alongside this story, there is another to be told. We think of Fish and Chips as a national dish. It appears in Dickens and it makes us think of the British seaside. It's Huguenot origins (Pdf), however, are less well-known.
There's a really powerful story to be told about the cultural origins of our national dishes. The Birmingham Balti is an obvious example ... throw into the mix the idea that the spiciness of Indian foods has some of its origins with Portuguese colonists and traders and it becomes clear just how rich and wide the cultural networks we can think about are.