Monday, 25 February 2013
We Need A Change In Food Culture
One of the surprising developments in recent years has been the amount of fast food businesses which now seem to decorate town centres. Even in small towns there are chinese, kebab, curry, sandwich takeaways and few of the old Scottish favourite, the chip shop. Many chip shops now provide Thai, Indian or Chinese food as a takeaway service.
I've never been a regular user of takeaway establishments. Even when chip shops were the only takeaway in town, somehow I thought it a treat to have a fish supper now and again. Perhaps that's from my childhood when money was tight and people actually cooked meals from scratch. About once a month my mother would send me to the chip shop for two bags of chips to be divided between the four of us for a special tea. A fried egg would accompany the chips (two eggs for my Dad) and I can still recall the 'this is special' feeling I experienced with egg and chip teas. Fish suppers from the chip shop were out of the question for us then. My mother used to fry the fish and make her own chips because locally caught fish was in abundance in the 50s and 60s.
When I was in secondary school we did have the occasional fish supper because our neighbours owned the local chip and ice cream shops and their fish suppers - and ice cream - were mouth-watering. Needless to say they were Italians.
But the chip shop fell out of fashion when the multitude of international takeaways arrive on the scene, along with the American chicken and burger supremos. 'Fish and chips is too expensive' was a statement I heard often in the 80s and 90s as a reason to frequent BurgerKing or McDonalds.
For years I've wondered about the content of 'fast foods'. When I was younger baked beans on toast was my chosen fast food because I've always felt a little concerned about the content of a burger roll, a ham sandwich or a piece of chicken encrusted in batter. The present crisis in our 'convenience' food wasn't too much of a surprise to me and the 'discoveries' continue, showing that lamb kebabs can contain cheaper beef and/or chicken.
Does this mean weekend party-goers will forsake kebab and curry shops and return in their droves to the local chippy?
Sadly, around here there's not a good chip shop left. Other types of takeaways undercut them and the better one closed as a result. During his many years in business the owner used fresh fish direct from Scottish waters and, apart from the splendid taste, you could smell the sea when you bit into the hot, crispy fish. He refused to buy inferior fish in order to reduce his prices and closed a few years ago.
There needs to be a change in the way we regard food. These days too many folk think quantity is value and of course that's untrue.
Bring back the chip shop! A chippy which uses only local fresh fish and doesn't diversify into international cuisine.
Come to think of it, what happened to the red pudding? I suspect it doesn't pass the food safety laws these days. It's a funny old world.