Letter From Home – Part 1: Fish & Chips

Fish ’n’ chips are still big in England. I guess the seemingly never-ending fondness for a dish that can be cruelly unpleasant if not prepared properly, came as a surprise to me. So many changes have taken place since I left England all those years ago for a career in the US of A. Yet, good ol’ fish ’n’ chips are still proudly available everywhere, throughout the length and breadth of England, found on bustling high streets and in tiny hamlets. Those same typical English high streets and picturesque villages are now also festooned with cool coffee shops, hip bars, gourmand restaurants and the ubiquitous gastropubs. And, each one of these establishments will try to squeeze tables and chairs outside onto the already overcrowded sidewalks in a manner once considered fine on the Continent, but hardly the thing to do in staid old England. So who devours those enormous mountains of battered fish ’n’ chips and avoids posing languidly on spindly bistro chairs? Could these be the same people who hate menus from foreign cuisines, including Croque-monsieurs, baguette sandwiches, and coffee in all its many exotic forms enough to vote for the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union? Brexit has been the number one constant topic of conversation wherever I go. Everyone has an opinion and almost universally that opinion is punctuated with outrage. In London, the standard take is, “There have to be ill-informed idiots somewhere in the country, but they certainly didn’t live next door to me!” While the consensus of opinion when I get out of the city is sadly resigned to, “We knew our neighbors were ignorant!”

For the month of June and part of July, Life Elsewhere. host, Norman B has been revisiting England, his home country. Part of his journey has included interviews which will appear at later dates on the program.

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