Cotswold Life

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

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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.

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Simp­sons
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Malt & An­chor, Cirences­ter

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