We've all been there. The aroma of frying oil wafting from the brightly lit shop on a bustling street. Ahhh. The buzzing from the strip lights above, distracting slightly from the polystyrene ceiling tiles. The mild burn on your forearm as you lean patiently against the hot display full of pasties, pies, saveloys and fish cakes. The anticipation as you get closer and closer to the front of the queue, envying all who stroll out with a happy jaunt with their dangerously thin plastic bag of supper swinging under their arms. The panic as you get closer and haven't chosen what you want yet. Memories.
It's been about two years since Dave and I have visited a proper, British chippy. Not because we don't like them anymore but because we got old and moved to the suburbs where there are no good fish and chip shops. Booo! When we lived in Roath, our favourite was Albany Fish Bar, who, in our opinion had the best chips in Cardiff. (Not that we'd managed to visit every single chip shop in Cardiff mind. That's a full-time job that is!) They were just the right amount of crispy, fluffy in the middle and their portions weren't stingy either. #Winning
Last night, we had a rare night out together (thanks, mother) to go and watch the new Star Wars movie. Dave was having a stressful time trying to avoid all the spoilers so it was essential that we see it soon. Babysitter arriving at 7 pm, film at 8:30 so definitely not enough time to go for a 'sit-down meal' (apparently that's what we call going out for dinner now) so what should we do as a treat? We were both on the same page (rare) on this one. Proper Chip Shop Chips From A Chippy. Sorted. Roath, watch out!
Now, for me (Dave isn't as dramatic about it) there is only one way to eat Proper Chip Shop Chips From A Chippy. In a cone! It's the perfect portion, it's easy to hold on the move and most importantly, it allows the vinegar (excessive amounts in my case) to filter perfectly over the chips and leave a lovely little puddle at the bottom of the cone. Enough of a puddle to leak through the bottom on to your lap and leave you smelling of chips all evening. Delish!
Off we go, like excited young-uns off out for the first time to a romantic evening of Proper Chip Shop Chips From A Chippy In A Cone and Star Wars (I'm a lucky lady*). We park up on Albany road and hop over to the glowing and inviting windows of our favourite chip shop for our much anticipated Proper Chip Shop Chips From A Chippy In A Cone. (I'll stop saying that in its entirety, I promise).
* I am not being sarcastic in any way. Really.
Everything in my first paragraph of this post happened to me and it was glorious. Read it again if you need to, I'll wait here...ready?
Everything was right with the world...until. Imagine my horror when I asked the very kind man behind the counter 'Can I get a Cone of Chips please?' and he replied with, 'Tray of chips?'. Horror! My world collapsed around me. Well, not really but I was quite worried they weren't going to do me a cone.
I did get my long-awaited perfect cone of chips ( I can hear you sigh with relief), these days I do have to accept that it won't be a newspaper but you win some, you lose some. The chip shop guys were very good about it. Dave was very embarrassed. The chips were delicious. My jeans still smell of vinegar. Oh, and Star Wars was excellent too.
I've chatted with friends and family about my cone obsession and it seems I might be in a minority here. Most have said that trays are better because you don't get vinegar in your lap (I don't see the problem myself) or that they generally prefer all wrapped up and on a plate at home. Some people even microwave them when they get home!? What!? Blasphemy! But, the ones that do like a cone, apparently have no trouble acquiring them when they feel the need but it seems trays are more of the 'done thing' now.
Perhaps I'm making too big a deal of this and just maybe, it didn't warrant an entire blog post. But it did give me the heebie-jeebies. I was starting to worry that the cone of chips was becoming extinct and that I was forever doomed to eat them from a polystyrene tray.
I'd heard rumours that chip shop culture was dying out entirely with observations like 'Millennials are certainly unimpressed and see fish and chips as old-fashioned' but I'm pleased to say that there's a lot of evidence to suggest that's just not true. Phew! There's even a dedicated chip shop reviewer dontcha know? He's called Graham Young (not related to Young's frozen food) and he's spent more than a decade reviewing chip shops! So people must still like chips. But do they like them in cones?
To keep the cone alive (and to keep chip shop owners practiced at them for other cone lovers and future cone lovers to come) I implore you, over Christmas and New Year, when you can't face another turkey sandwich, mince pie or lump of cheese, head down to your local chippy for Proper Chip Shop Chips From A Chippy In A Cone. If you've never experienced one before, do it in the name of science and tell me that it's not tastier in a cone rather than a characterless plastic tray! I would be very intrigued to hear your thoughts!
I have just had lots of messages from friends cursing me for bringing up the subject in our group chat. They are all now starving and angry with me. Or, what is it the kids say these days? #Hangry?
So, I apologise if I've made anyone #Hangry but that means you've got a good excuse to head to your nearest Chippy, no? Silver linings!