Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Chip Butty

Julie called me today and alerted me to this NYTimes article. In it she read about a “Chip Butty.” English schools are apparently trying to improve the health-quotient of their lunch menus and some kids don’t approve:
“It’s rubbish,” said Andreas Petrou, an 11th grader. Instead, en route to school recently, he was enjoying a north of England specialty known as a chip butty: a French-fries-and-butter sandwich doused in vinegar.
“We didn’t get a choice,” he said of the school food. “They just told us we were having it."

The reason she called me was this. We have a restaurant here in Park Slope called the
ChipShop, which features “delicacies” from the British Isles – anything, really that will soak up the pints you are required to consume. Curious gourmet that I am, I have tried some of the odder-sounding items and have recently enjoyed my first Chip Butty. I’m scheduled for bypass surgery in March.
It’s quite an experience. The vinegar really makes it, otherwise the thing would be impossible to get down. The thing is, Julie thought that Chip Butty was a ChipShop creation. “These idiot Americans think we eat anything fried. Let’s tell them we eat French Fry sandwiches. Just wait, someone will try it.” But no. They’re real.
As Cyril Connolly writes,
Oh, the superb wretchedness of English food, how many foreigners has it daunted, and what a subtle glow of nationality one feels in ordering a dish that one knows will be bad and being able to eat it! The French do not understand cooking, only good cooking – this is where we score.
I think I’ll try the Welsh Rarebit next, since I’ve already had the Fried Macaroni.


Trent said...

Jen says she's had quite a few chip buttys in her day. She was shocked to hear that you could get one outside the house, though. She said it would be "like having baked beans on toast at a restaurant." Is that bad?

Jen said...

Trent is exaggerating, as usual. While I know what a chip butty is, I have never had one myself. My parents, on the other hand, would talk lovingly about chip buttys (butties?). I have, however, had Welsh rarebit and give it a high recommendation.

green clementine said...

Testimony from a French person living in the UK:

They do eat chips in sandwiches and they do have at least 1 chip shop per 1000 inhabitants. They also eat crisps in sandwiches!!! As for vinegar on chips... better not think about it!

English people claim that only the Scots do deepfry everything. Which is not entirely untrue. Who else would deepfry Mars Bars??? Have you heard of Haggis?

The only good thing about food in Britain is Vegetarian Food. It is impossible to get a decent veggie meal out in France, unless you live in a major city. And of course, Indian food is really nice in the UK. There are probably as many curry houses as chip shops!