THE CHIP SHOP BOYS
There is indeed, no place like home.
Home for Dos Hermanos used to be the grey, gloomy and depressed town of Rotherham. A sprawling mass of Poundshops, Charity shops and the remnants of a once thriving steel and mining industry, it is a shadow of the prosperous blue collar town of my youth. What's more, our minnow football team is about to go bankrupt. Ho Hum.
For all that, it retains a great deal of charm. People who, while redefining dour on a daily basis, are prone to call you "luv" whether you are or not, great pubs serving beer in extra large glasses to allow provision for that creamy head on the ale that I miss so much down South and, most of all, FISH & CHIPS.
Rotherham probably has more "chippies" per capita than any other town in the UK. There are hundreds of them and all seem to have a queue.
Whenever Hermano Primero and me head north, this time on the pleasing new rolling stock of Midland Mainline ( First Class Apex a mere £28) we always make sure to have a vast plate of F&C. Thank God we both spend the other half of our lives at the gym.
Our Chippie de Choix for the last few years has been The Listerdale Fish Bar. It is everything a chipshop should be, with signs offering "extra curry sauce for 30p" and "battered Kebab rings for £1" it is a place of mysterious wonderment. What is "non brewed condiment" What can you do with a "rissole" that wont get you arrested or at least cautioned? What are scraps?
On this visit, I joined HP and my younger brother ( celebrating his birthday ) and headed off on our mission. There is more planning in this that in both of the Gulf Wars put together. When to order the food? When to arrive? Too early and we have to wait, too late and the chips can be past their peak. But, younger brother has it down to a fine art and we were soon in the car park of the little strip mall where the shop resides.
Inside, straight to the front of the queue (for "we have ordered" we offer arrogantly to anyone who questions ) in out, bish, bash bosh and back to the car before you can say "nah then, hah's thi doin?"
Once back at the car, the fun begins. Think of a medical courier delivering a still twitching heart for a life saving transplant and you will have the basic idea. HP taking corners on two wheels, the screeching of tyres and constant radio ( er, mobile ) contact with HQ ( er, home )to warn them of our impending arrival so the door can be open and trays ( for F&C must be eaten of your laps in front of the TV ) laid. That way, the fish batter remains crisp, the chips hot and the mushy peas, well mushy. It is an art and one in that HP excels.
Once home, the carefully wrapped package is ripped open and the spoils divvied up. For me in my carbophobic state, "just a few chips, please " a huge piece of haddock which must by local bye-law, be big enough to hang over the side of the plate, a carton of flourescent mushy peas, a wide variety of pickles, sauces and the vinegar from the pickled onions. It is, as HP has been know to say, what separates us from the mere beasts.
Another family tradition is to have our F&C with a bottle of champagne. Hardly the usual accompaniment, but it works perfectly.
After last night's over indulgence at The Goring, I stuck to water but, for all that, a splendid meal.
There are some very decent chippies in London, but none that come within a country mile of The Listerdale Fish Bar.
I wonder if they do mail order?