A nugget in defence of immigrants

In the United Kingdom, fish and chips became a cheap food popular among the working classes with the rapid development of trawl fishing in the North Sea in the second half of the nineteenth century. In 1860 The first fish and chip shop was opened in London by Jewish proprietor Joseph Malin who married together “fish fried in the Jewish fashion” with chips.

Up until the 19th century we were not a particularly piscivorious nation.

Consisting on a diet of mostly meat and one veg – two if you were lucky – the idea that a national dish – the national dish – would be fried fish and fried potatoes would be confusing to our 19th century forebears.

But then some Jews came along from Eastern Europe, fleeing terror or just seeking a better life. With their funny ways, keeping mostly to themselves, making cabinets and clothes and eating odd un-British things like fish, they didn’t do much harm.

This fish eating slowly dispersed throughout the nation and became more and more popular via market stalls and street hawkers until ventures like our Mr Malin’s became profitable.

It is no exaggeration to say that the marvellously, almost quintessentially, English dish fish and chips is an immigrant dish.

With the disdain modern migrants are held in its a little hard to believe, but we owe a lot of what Gordon Brown calls “Britishness” to immigrants.

Funny old world, eh?


Selected Reading for 05/01/10

And yes, although Christmas is over, 2009 wouldn’t be complete without a Winterval introspective from Five Chinese Crackers.