When I was growing up in Maryborough QLD, my mother would take a break from cooking while my father was away and we would eat fish and chips. Usually my sister Clare and I would be given the order and sent off to one of the local fish and chip shops and we would get on our bikes and bring back a steaming pile wrapped in white paper as well as an outer layer of newspapers.
The fish would have been local, coming from Hervey Bay, twenty-two miles away. The chips would have been made from potatoes, cut by hand or with a hand operated machine. The chips were first given an initial frying and then re-fried at the time of ordering. In those times, the fish was battered but the end result was a very moist piece of succulent fish that was swimming the ocean a day or so before. The combination, along with salt was delicious. No need for adulterating lemon or vinegar.
In 1973 when I was living in Melbourne with my younger sister Clare, we would occasionally decide to have a fish and chips night. Not more than three or four times a month. We discovered that one of our nearest f&c shops did really good grilled fish and another did better chips and so we would buy appropriately.
After the dismal effort at the pub by the Thames yesterday and a discussion with Marianne over the remains of a bottle of red wine after dinner, I have decided to have a rant about the quality of f&c over the past few years.
Chip making seems to be a lost art and we blame the use of frozen chips that the shops use these days that probably arrive in large bags, pre-chopped and perhaps semi-cooked. We suspect that today's f&c shops just tip them into the vat of boiling oil and that is it. No real twice frying. Mind you, there are places who know how to do chips properly such as the excellent chips in Ireland and also in a restaurant in Yachats in Oregon. The excellent chips at the Belgian restaurant in Philadelphia are good but they are the skinny variety and not a real chip.
Quite a few years ago, Marianne read about what was supposed to be the best place in London for f&c but it was abysmal.
Even in Oz at Hervey Bay, the chips are not what they were. But the fish is excellent, particularly the local mullet. However good f&c seem to be a lost art. Perhaps you will get good fish or good chips but not both. However I live in hope.