Fish and chips – so you think it’s an Irish dish?
Fish and chips – Irish, Italian or Russian??
Regularly while on one of our Irish food trails – I do a full sweep of our guests and ask them what do they think is Irish food? Almost always fish and chips comes up among their answers. Some guests are a little unsure and ask is it actually Irish? Truth is that it’s not really Irish at all but it is definitely a dish that has a place in the nation’s hearts and is well enjoyed!
So, how did it all start? We have an Italian to blame! Giuseppe Cervi disembarked from a boat at Cobh in County Cork en-route to the USA. He made his way to Dublin and worked till he had enough money to buy a cooker that he could cook chips in outside pubs (see even that tradition of chips after a night out is still going strong!!). Before long he had a permanent premises on what is now Pearse Street.
Now you know when you go into a chippie and you hear someone asking for a one and one? Have you ever thought of where that expression came from? Well, it’s all down to Giuseppe’s wife Palma.
Not speaking any English she would ask customers “uno di questo, uno di quello” meaning one of these and one of the other which then became “one on one”. This is a particularly Dublin thing!
Soon after came more Italian families, by 1909 there were 20 chippers in Dublin. Bizarre in a way as you would never see a fish and chip place in Italy! Maybe they realised that we have fabulous fish here and that we liked potatoes so they saw an opportunity! Many of these Italian families were immigrants from very poor areas in Italy and they made their lives here. Nowadays there are so many Italian chippers. You will see names like Borza, Roma, Macari and Fusco. They are located the length and breadth of the country. They even formed an association – Irish traditional Italian chippers association or ITICA for short! Every year they have an event when they all sell fish and chips at half price and you should see the queues that day!!!
There are two famous chippies that have to be checked out when in Dublin. Leo Burdocks, near Christchurch cathedral and opened since 1913 is a bit of a legend in the city started by Bella Burdock and her husband Patrick. Famous for their generous portions, fresh fish and tasty chips this place will go on and on and on. I recommend you get your take away and go sit in the gardens at Christchurch cathedral or indeed even St. Patrick’s cathedral and savour every mouthful.
I remember when they used to wrap your fish and chips up in actual newspaper. There is pretty much always a queue there but it’s worth the wait for the perfectly cooked thick chips and flaky fish.
Beshoffs chain of chips hops have been synonymous with quality since their beginnings. They hail from Russia and arrived here in 1913. They do have a sit down restaurant and their premises evoke the look of an Edwardian Oyster bar. In addition to regular fish and chips they also offer a few more slightly modern options such as calamari and chips and, scampi and chips and my favourite fish cake and chips!
Nowadays restaurants play around with the dish offering various beer battered fish with the chips and some places offering “posh” fish and chips but almost always you come back to the original and the best.
Fish and chips, so you think its an Irish dish? Let us know your thoughts below in the comments.
Regardless of the origins – fish and chips in Dublin is special and definitely something you have to eat at least once when you visit! So come to Dublin and join the locals for a traditional bag of chips.
Hopefully see you on our next Irish Food Trail… #EatDrinkExplore
Liz & The Irish Foodies