Real East End fish’n’chips now come wrapped in newsprint again
18:21 04 February 2011
TRADITIONAL East End fish and chips are back with vinegar and a vengeance—even wrapped in newsprint.
But this time the wrapping won’t poison the cod or skate because it’s printed with “edible” ink.
That’s the claim by Pat Newland, who is realising a lifelong ambition today—’Fry’day—opening his own East End chippie, Poppies restaurant in Spitalfields.
But he has had to come out of retirement to do it.
Pat started in the frying trade even before leaving school at 15, when he worked weekends in Phil’s chip shop in the Roman Road in 1953, the year of the Queen’s coronation.
Pat eventually went into business with his Poppie’s American diner “caff” in Cable Street. But it wasn’t the real thing—he was like a fish out of water.
He thought he would enjoy retirement when he sold the ‘caff’ four years ago. Not so.
“Retiring drove me mental,” he told the East London Advertiser.
“I spent time riding my bike in Victoria Park and just mooching around at home getting under the wife’s feet.
“I was really fed up, so I thought I’d have a pop at opening an old fashioned fish and chip business like I’ve always wanted to.”
He opened the doors to customers at 11am today at Hanbury Street, round the corner from the Ten Bells ‘Jack the Ripper’ pub, with everything traditional like the East End he remembers in the 1950s, complete with a restored 1958 jukebox and even a bakelite phone behind the counter.
Pat—known to his ‘china plates’ (mates) as ‘Poppie’—has invested £500,000 getting everything just right. He even persuaded Hackney’s 67-year-old veteran fish-fryer Jack Sali, known as ‘Jack the Kipper’ in the trade, to come out of retirement as well and look after the frying.
The chips are peeled and hand cut from British farmed maris piper potatoes from a fourth generation family business, Masters, and his fish comes daily from third-generation trader Tony Bush in Billingsgate.
The menu includes Peterhead cod, haddock, plaice, rock, sole, mackerel, halibut and skate, all cooked in batter from a secret family recipe.
Pat and his team of six chip shop veterans also offer that staple of the East End diet, jellied eels, washed down with a cuppa.
Pat has had 10 tonnes of newsprint specially printed showing old copies of the Daily Mirror and London Evening News to wrap the take-away portions–just like the old days.
HISTORY OF FISH’N’CHIPS BEGAN IN THE EAST END
1838: Charles Dickens’ mentions a “fried fish warehouse” in the slums of London in Oliver Twist.
1860: Joseph Mallin opens what’s thought to be the word’s first ‘chippie’ in London’s East End, combining “fish fried in the Jewish fashion” with chipped potatoes. The shop in Old Ford, near Victoria Park, remains a family business for four generations until it finally closes down in 1971.
1896: The first ‘fish and chip restaurant’ is opened by Sam Isaacs just three miles away in Whitechapel, serving fish & chips, bread & butter and tea, all for 9d (4p). He branches out with other restaurants in Hoxton, Brixton, Tottenham Court Road and even The Strand, all with waited service, table cloths, carpets, china and cutlery to make ‘posh’ dining affordable to the working classes.
1900: There are now 30,000 chip shops in Britain, spreading to the seaside with the introduction of workers’ paid holiday. Sam Isaacs follows the trend and opens branches in Clacton, Brighton, Ramsgate and Margate.
1913: the National Federation of Fish Fryers is founded to represent the trade and lobby Parliament. Today, its 9,000 members sell 60,000 tonnes of fish a year, a quarter of all the white fish consumed in Britain, and 500,000 tonnes of potatoes, with an annual turnover of £650 million.