It is well known that a big stereo type about the Portuguese is Fish and Chips, that all of us own a fish and chips shop at least once in our lives and if we don’t own one we know someone who does! This is kind of true though, but can we as a Portuguese community lay claim to that tradition of fish and chips?
The history of fish and chips started in England and became a stock meal among the working class. This happened because of the rapid development of trawl fishing in the North Sea and the development of railways which connected ports to major industrial cities.
But deep-fried fish was first introduced into England during the 16th century by Jewish refugees from Portugal and Spain. In 1860 the first fish and chips shop was opened in London by Joseph Malin.
Deep-fried chips (slices or pieces of potato) as a dish may have first appeared in England in about the same period. The Oxford English Dictionary notes as its earliest usage of “chips” in this sense, the mention in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities (published in 1859): “Husky chips of potatoes, fried with some reluctant drops of oil”.
The modern fish and chip shop (“chippy” or “chipper” in modern English slang originated in the United Kingdom, although outlets selling fried food occurred commonly throughout Europe. Early fish and chip shops had only very basic facilities. Usually these consisted principally of a large cauldron of cooking fat, heated by a coal fire. The fish and chip shop later evolved into a fairly standard format, with the food served in paper wrappings to queuing customers over a counter behind which the fryers are located. During World War II fish and chips remained one of the few foods in the United Kingdom not subject to rationing.
British fish and chips were originally served in a wrapping of old newspapers, but this practice largely ceased as a result of a European Union directives.