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Fish and chips - A great British tradition

THE typical retail fish frying shop run by its owners, usually husband and wife and with part-time help, represents a continuing tradition which goes back in Great Britain to the early days of the 19th century. Charles Dickens, in his novel Oliver Twist, mentions a fried fish warehouse, but it was not until the 1860s that the trade began to develop as we know it now.

Through the latter part of the 19th century and well into the present century, the trade expanded greatly to satisfy the needs of the growing industrial population of Great Britain. The development of the steam trawler brought to these shores fish from all over the North Atlantic, the water round Iceland and Greenland and off the North Cape of Norway.

The intricate network of railways established in the United Kingdom helped to concentrate the development of the catching side of the industry at major ports such as Grimsby. Fleetwood, (lull and Aberdeen, but met(, importantly allowed the rapid distribution of fish to every part of the United Kingdom. Fish landed at Grimsby one day would be on sale in the most distant parts of the country early the following morning.

However, as can be expected the fried fish trade's greatest development was in the industrial cities of Scotland, the North of England and Midlands as well as London. W i t h t h e spread of paid holidays the fried fish trade's customers, when on holiday, still demanded the product with which they had become familiar at home. A characteristic feature of most popular English holiday resorts are the fried fish shops, cafes and restaurants, something which has now spread to the Mediterranean coast of Spain and other overseas resorts.

It was not only the easy availability of fish and chips which contributed to the development of the trade. From the very beginning fish and chipped potatoes have been recognised by the great mass of the British population as providing a nourishing meal offering good value for money. Even today, with many competitive products being offered in the take-away and fast food trades, the traditional British fish and chip shop is still the leader in this particular field.

We have already said something of the unique place the fish frying trade has in Great Britain. Although friers operate specialist fish catering businesses these, with some exceptions of course, cannot be thought of as up market seafood businesses. The range of products offered is limited - cod, haddock, plaice with, in the Southern part of England, skate, hake and dogfish being additional items.

It is true that there has been considerable diversification by the trade into other products - pies, chicken and hamburgers etc. This movement is limited by the necessity to retain a competitive price structure. To extend its product range too far will inevitably destroy that feature of its trading which has always been its strength.

By concentrating on a relatively narrow range of products, the advantages of buying raw materials in relatively large quantities, processing in quantity and offering its products to the public on a ready-cooked basis, have enabled this trade to continue its tradition of supplying to the British public the cheapest cooked meal in the country.

The National Federation of Fish Friers was founded in 1913 to watch over the interests of its members' specialist trade. Today, over 80 years later, it is the largest organisation representing the largest take-away food trade in the country. 9,000 fried fish shops having an annual turnover of over £650M sell 60,000 tonnes of fish (abut one-quarter of all the white fish consumed in the UK) and 500,000 tonnes of potatoes (over 10% of all potatoes eaten by British people). It is, therefore, important that the trade is properly represented to government, growers and the fishing industry to ensure continuity of supplies and the continuing prosperity of the trade. The NFFF has successfully carried out these tasks for many years and looks far the support of all the trade to enable it to continue serving all who supply the British public with its traditional fare.

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FISH AND CHIPS - A HISTORY

There a nothing more British than fish and chips eaten with salt and vinegar, fish and chips is one of our Great British institutions

Humble Beginnings
Hut where did this famous culinary delight originate?
The simple answer is that no-one really knows.
We do know that fish and chips developed separately- the French invented chips or 'chipp ed pooomes de terrre a la mode' (from the humble potato commonly believed to have been brought to Europe by Sir Walter Raleigh in the 17th Centuary) and in 1839 Charles Dickens referred to a 'fried fish warehouse' in Oliver Twist. The great British fish and chip trade grew out of these existing small businesses which sold fish and chips separately in the streets and alleys of London and some of Britain's industrial town, in the 1850s.
Both, Lancashire and London stake a claim to the origin of our most famous meal - chips were the standard fare of the industrial north whilst fried fish was introduced in London's East End.

Long Live the Fish and Chip Shop
Along with the history of fish and chips comes the colourful history of the fish and chip shop. The first fish and chip shop in the North of England is thought to hove opened in Mossley near Oldham, Lancashire, around 1863. Mr Lees sold fish and chips from a wooden hut  in the market and later he transferred the business to a permanent shop across the road which had the following inscription in the window "This is the first fish and chip shop in the world." But in London, Joseph Malin opened a fish end chip shop in Cleveland Street within the sound of Bow Bells 13 in 1860. There are now around 8,100 fish and chip shops across the UK that, eight for every one McDonalds outlet.
A Marriage of Taste
The public soon realised that fish and potatoes ware rather a tasty combination and over the course of the next 100 years, fish and chips became not only a national institution but a vital source of nutrition for families - helping to fuel the workforce of the industrial revolution
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Fish and Chip Shops Come Out Tops
Fish and chips became so essential to the diet of the ordinary man and woman that one shop in Bradford had to employ a doorman to control the queue at busy times during 1931.

THE NATION'S FAVOURITE

Thanks be to Cod
However the dish originated, fish and chips is a national favourite, eaten and loved by every generation, - in fact its position as the nations favourite hot take away remains unchallenged, despite the advent of the American burger bar.

The nations favourite fish is cod. followed by had dock, although there are regional variations. For example whiting is popular in Northern Ireland and some parts of Scotland and skate and huss are often seen In the south of England

In 1999 the British consumed nearly 300 million servings of fish and chips - that equates to six servings for every man woman and child in the country

Over 4,000 is the record for the largest number of portions sold in one day by an independent fish and chip shop.

Fish and chips have never been more fashionable. London restaurants such as Sir Terence Conran's Le Pont de la Tour and Elisabeth Taylor's favourite, The Dorchester, feature this great British dish on their menus.

Despite the versatility of the chip, fish is far and away our favourite accompaniment for this form of the humble Potato.
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THE NATIONAL FEDERATION

The National Federation of Fish Friers limited was founded In 1913 .

Seventeen small Associations felt the need to land one large organisation which could represent them on matters concerning them all.

The Federations inaugural Conference was held in Manchester in 1914 and has continued annually at various locations since.

The Federation was soon acknowledged as the leading organisation to represent the fish frying trade. The Government, along with public bodies with which negotiations take place, hold the Federation in high esteem, rewarding two past Federation General Secretaries with MBEs for their services to the trade.

The NFFF has always been active in areas outside its members' immediate interests, unlike some retail organisations. Fish friers convert raw materials into a finished product and the federation is always concerned with the sources of its supplies. The Federation holds important positions on both the Sea Fish Industry Authority and the British Potato Council committees and, in this way, Is well placed to protect the interests of its members.

From the outset the NFFF has been a leading role in upgrading the status of fish friers. This has been partly achieved through the Fish Friers Review, the monthly magazine published for the interest and benefit of its members and providing an ideal avenue for suppliers to reach their customers.

Finally the NFFF runs its own specialised training courses for the trade. These prove to be very popular and the Federation Head Office receives enquiries from  throughout the UK, Europe and America from both beginners and experienced friers alike.
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FISH AND CHIP TIT-BITS

Wish you were here 
We're so hooked on fish and chips, we even miss them while we're on holiday abroad - according to a MORI, survey. 30% of us confess to a longing for our favourite take away while we're away in foreign climes, whereas only 7% miss that other old favourite, bangers and mash
Brits say no to Brussels
The Belgian habit of eating fish and chips with mayonnaise finds few fans in the UK. For us it's salt and vinegar or tomato ketchup - nothing else will do, unless you are from Scotland where spe cial brown sauce is popular.
Anytime, Anyplaice, Anywhere Again according to a MORI survey, most of us take the conventional option and eat our fish and chips at home - but three fish and chip fans confessed to eat ing their fish and chips in bed intriguingly, all three were women
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Far Flung Fish and Chips
People have come across fish 'and chip shops in the strangest places throughout the world. There's one on top of a Cliff in South Africa - they tower a baste into the sea and hoist up the fish Straight from the water below Other sightings include the middle of the desert in Oman and even at the back of a church. You can even get your fish and chip fix while gambling in the casinos of Las Vegas, Fish and chips in China don t sound especially appetising - apparently they are Served with sugar)
Fish and Chip fantasies
Scottish superstar Sean Connery was the outright winner of a survey to find out who we'd secretly love to serve us our fish and chips. He was chosen by 2696 of women respondents, ahead of Ross Kemp, alias Grant Mitchell in Eastenders Hollywood actor Keanu Reeves and comedians Lenny Henry and Angus Deayton. Catherine Zeta Jones came out on top of the men's fantasies.
Celebrities love fish and chips
Nicholas Parsons `the British have turned a simple, nourishing dish into a rational institution. Fish and chips are now as synonymous with our country as Shakespeare. cricket and the Tower of London. Good fish and chips from a well-run establishment take a lot of beat

Paul Daniels 'When I moved South I managed to find a great local fish and chip shop in Harefield. So it's still very much part of my weekly diet.'
Fishing for Compliments
It's official - the way to a woman's heart Is through her stomach. A MORI survey showed that nine out of ten women say that a man should have bask cooking Skills. The most likely food to be a winner in the seduction game is fish chosen by one third of women as the dish most likely to put them in the mood for seduction. So come on chaps)