Sunday, July 31, 2005

I do not think that I have written too extensively on the British Institution known collectively as "The Chippie". I may have mentioned it in a few places but I have not delved into it in great detail. I will try to remedy that with this post.

The traditional "Chippie" is a fish and chip stand. This can be in a store front or just like a hot dog stand. For instance, there is a portable shed in Tobermory, Isle of Mull, that they set up on the quay in the summer months to lift money from tourists. I have had their fish and it is quite good. These places usually serve a very small menu (generally, just fish and chips).

The modern "Chippie" is another place altogether. First, most of them are in store fronts near pubs. Second, they have a large menu of, generally, quickly cooked items (including, pizza and hamburgers but you can get fish and chips if you like). Third, there are many run by people of Middle Eastern origins. They are open almost all night (or until a half-hour or so after the pubs close) to catch people as they leave to go home for the evening.

I have a favorite Chippie. Those of you, who have come to visit, know it well. It is staffed by a very friendly set of guys from Turkey. Many of whom are related to each other. Sandy Bell's (my favorite pub) is situated on the same street so it is (mostly easy) to get to before heading off for home.

This is the kind of chippie that if you did not go to it every night you went to the pub, you would hardly remark upon its existence. However, a closer inspection and a bit of time will reveal an entire world inside those four walls. These guys are here for various reasons. One is here because of school. Another is trying to help his English (he's getting better too). They are all great guys.

For instance, my roommate is now "mom". From what I can glean from them, mothers are highly respected people and to be called "mom" is a sign of respect (they also get her mixed up with my actual mother whom they met in January so, in effect, I have two moms in their somewhat confused eyes). These guys are diligent in their duties and look like they are having a good time. There is much fun to be had while sitting in the back area listening to the newest in Turkish pop music while watching various kind of people wander in and out of the place. That and they make an excellent lamb shish-ka-bob (have it with the garlic sauce).

When you think about "The Chippie" as a national institution of the UK, it has one of those enduring qualities (much like the pub, which I will probably talk about another time) that cannot be easily summed up in a few words. The face and the menu of "The Chippie" may have changed since the middle of the last century but its ineffable qualities that facilitate human interaction (something that I think is genuinely missing in American culture) will endure far beyond when my favorite Chippie closes its doors for the last time.

posted by Chris  #11:07 PM | 0 comments |