The time and plaice
There may be some dispute as to where and when fish and chips was first served up to the nation, but it matters not – here’s where you can get the finest in the Cotswolds in 2020
This year’s National Fish and Chip Day on September 4 celebrates a trade still going strong since it started in the Victorian era. In the UK, the combination of fried fish and cooked potatoes can actually be traced back to the 17th century when it was a staple dish of London’s Jewish immigrants.
Later on, Charles Dickens made reference to a fried fish warehouse in Oliver Twist and the novelist also wrote of ‘husky chips of potatoes, fried with some reluctant drops of oil’ in A Tale of Two Cities, published in 1859.
The following year, fish and chips was dished up in London by the Malin family and by the Lees family in Mossley, near Manchester. Both lay claim to be the first to serve what has since become regarded as the national dish, although a blue plaque in Oldham’s Tommyfield Market also claims to be home of the first British fried chip in 1860.
Once a hot and nutritious meal fuelling factory workers in northern mill towns, fish and chips has since become synonymous with seaside holidays as well as an affordable dish for all ages across the country.
Although there are now a third of the fish and chips shops around in the 1920s and 1930s when there were around 35,000 of them, the industry still generates a turnover of £1.2 billion every year.
These days we can enjoy fish and chips in pubs, cafes, restaurants and department stores as well as the traditional takeaway shop or mobile van.
Sustainability is a key factor to the fish and chip industry today and many shops now add the MSC (Machine Stewardship Council) ‘Blue Tick’ to their menus as a reassurance that the fish people are eating is responsibly sourced.
The fish and chip industry is also a huge part of the UK’S economy and a large-scale employer, with over 10,000 shops across the country.
Run by husband and wife team Bonny and James Ritchie, Simpsons celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2019, although fish and chips have been in the family since 1976.
Opened in 2017, Malt & Anchor is a traditional ‘chippy’ with a contemporary menu so expect classics alongside panko coated-calamari, locally sourced pies and butcher’s sausages. They even offer a home delivery service. maltandanchor.co.uk
Located just off the main High Street in the centre of Broadway village, you can eat in or take away at Russell’s which fries its fish and chips in Cotswold Gold rapeseed oil produced two miles away. russellsfishandchips.co.uk
Established in 1955, this Hatherley fish and chip shop was run by Colin Mustoe for 40 years before he handed the reins to John Izamis in 2008. Not that John is a novice when it comes to the fryer as his parents ran successful fish and chip shops in Cheltenham and Birmingham.
With shops also in Bourton on the Water and Warwick, The Chip Shed at Minchinhampton forms part of a triumvirate of award-winning fish and chip shops run by Gregg Howard who also happens to be president of the National Federation of Fish Fryers. chipshed.co.uk
Conveniently located next to The Priory Inn, The Stargazy Fish Bar prides itself on a special batter made from a blend of Shipton Mill flours and Cotswold Brew Co. Premium Lager. They also make the fishcakes, goujons, curry sauce and mushy peas in-house. stargazyfishbar.co.uk
A short walk from Kingsholm and serving fish and chips since the 1940s, this restaurant and takeaway set within a 16th-century building certainly lives up to its name. yeoldefishshopperestaurant.co.uk
Back open and following all the Government’s Covid-19 guidelines, The Swan at Ascottunder-wychwood has resumed its Sunday roasts. Try the loin of Kelmscott pork, crackling, toffee apple sauce, thyme-roasted potatoes, red wine sauce and dripping Yorkshire pudding with a side order of burnt butter cauliflower cheese, roasted roots and greens. And if you still have space after that lot, you can finish with a homemade crumpet, truffled Tunworth and Cotswolds honey or share the Jaffa cake chocolate pudding for two with pistachio ice cream and candied pistachios.