Shalom Life | February 27, 2015

Of all the Jewish Inventions, Nothing Tastes Better than Fish ‘N Chips

Traditional British favourite has a Jewish origin

By: Daniel Horowitz

Published: July 17th, 2012 in News » World

Of all the Jewish Inventions, Nothing Tastes Better than Fish ‘N Chips

When one thinks of all the incredible achievements – and inventions – created by Jews over the years, you’d be excused if Britain’s quintessential delicacy was not at the top of that list. But the truth is, historical data points decidedly to the fact that the beloved fish and chips is very much another Jewish creation.

Mmmmm. There’s nothing that gets the gastronomical juices flowing quite like a sumptuous plate of fish and chips.

And, the next time you’re about to squeeze a bit of lemon onto your fried, and deliciously golden coated piece of halibut, consider the fact that we owe that taste to 16th century British Jews.

According to Claudio Roden’s Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, first published in 1997, the origin of fish and chips is very much influenced by sixteenth-century Jewish immigrants – Portuguese Marranos, to be precise, who had been forced to hide their ethnicity due to persecution – who introduced the tasty concept of fried fish to Britain.

Even soon-to-be US president Thomas Jefferson wrote about eating 'fried fish in the Jewish fashion' after a visit to Britain towards the end of the eighteenth century and the first Jewish cookbook, published in Britain in 1846, included a recipe for it.

In 1860, a Jewish immigrant from Eastern Europe by the name of Joseph Malin opened the first business in London's East End selling fried fish alongside chipped potatoes which, until then, had been found only in the Irish potato shops. In 1968 the National Federation of Fish Fryers even presented a commemorative plaque to Malin's of Bow, recognizing their founding role in the chippie business. According to Roden, nobody has challenged her version.

Professor Panikos Panayi of Leicester's De Montfort University conducted a research project to investigate the global influence on British food. He said fish and chips mixed "French frites with Jewish fish dishes".

"In the middle of the 19th century the main concern of most sections of English society consisted of eating enough food of sufficient quality to stay alive, rather than displaying a concern about variety,” explained Panavi. “Transformations between 1850 and 1945 included the emergence of fish and chips, influenced by both French and Jewish culinary traditions.

He said the origins of the dish were complex, but probably came about from the combination of French frites with Jewish fish dishes.

So, while we, as Jews should be so proud of our role in this staple, we should also be thankful. That is, we should be thankful that the greasy cardboard box we take home wrapped up in newspaper contains most likely halibut or haddock with chips and not Gefilte fish ‘n chips. Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, now does it?

Madonna: Europe Feels like "Nazi Germany" Madonna: Europe Feels like "Nazi Germany" TrendingAn Open Letter to Banksy: Even Without Mentioning Israel, Your New Gaza 'Ad' Still Reeks of anti-Zionism An Open Letter to Banksy: Even Without Mentioning Israel, Your New Gaza 'Ad' Still Reeks of anti-Zionism TrendingUCLA Student Government "Biased"Against Jewish Candidate UCLA Student Government "Biased"Against Jewish Candidate Trending
 

Rest in Peace, Mr. Spock. You Will Be Dearly Missed

February 27, 2015 | By Daniel Koren
Rest in Peace, Mr. Spock. You Will Be Dearly Missed

Leonard Nimoy, actor, director, writer, musician, painter, and pop culture icon, dies at 83

Read More

Madonna’s Israeli Hacker Has Been Indicted

February 27, 2015 | By Ashley Baylen
Madonna’s Israeli Hacker Has Been Indicted

Adi Lederman has been officially charged on four counts including computer trespassing.

Read More

'Clueless' Soundtrack to be Released as Yellow and Black Plaid Vinyl

February 27, 2015 | By Ashley Baylen
'Clueless' Soundtrack to be Released as Yellow and Black Plaid Vinyl

The seminal 90's soundtrack is being re-released for the film's 20th anniversary

Read More

Justin Bieber Begs Seth Rogen to Roast Him

February 27, 2015 | By Ashley Baylen
Justin Bieber Begs Seth Rogen to Roast Him

The pop singer reaches out to Rogen via Twitter in hopes he'll appear on his upcoming Comedy Central special.

Read More

Israeli Doctor Resorts to Crowdfunding to Treat Three-Year-Old Girl's Disease

February 27, 2015 | By NoCamels Team
Israeli Doctor Resorts to Crowdfunding to Treat Three-Year-Old Girl's Disease

Due to high expenses, Dr. Shomron sought to raise necessary funds for his patient from individual donors over the Internet

Read More

Madonna: Europe Feels like "Nazi Germany"

February 27, 2015 | By Daniel Koren
Madonna: Europe Feels like "Nazi Germany"

"anti-Semitism is at an all time high" says the acclaimed singer/songwriter

Read More

Israeli Teen Wins First Round of European Chess Championship

February 27, 2015 | By Roi Yanovsky
Israeli Teen Wins First Round of European Chess Championship

17-year-old Itay Westreich beats current Israeli champion Victor Mikhalevski in first round of championship in Jerusalem

Read More

Organizers Halt Tel Aviv Marathon Due to Heat

February 27, 2015 | By Shahar Hay
Organizers Halt Tel Aviv Marathon Due to Heat

Two men participating in annual run lose consciousness due to heat stroke, both under sedation and ventilated; 75 others treated on scene; major streets closed off in Tel Aviv

Read More

More Headlines