Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Fish and Chips

No, don't worry, I'm not going to tell you about how tasty this variety of fast food is (although it is) nor how you're not considered to be British if you don't like/love it (although you're not) nor that it is advisable to eat F&C at least once a week according to the owner of the restaurant I recently discovered (although I highly doubt this one to be true!!). No what I want to tell you about is a series of happy coincidences that led me the other day to enjoy an authentic/Syrian F&C in the heart of the England’s garden!

For those of you who don't know what F&C is, just imagine a KFC and change the chicken with a nice piece of cod fish (boneless) and it is usually accompanied by a medium sized portion of larch chunky chips that you're suppose to have them with a pinch of salt and some vinegar (non of that continental mayo and ketchup!)

As you can imagine it is the warmest thing (besides a curry) you can have on a cold night and that is exactly why I just followed the secant of chips one evening coming home late from work and really not in the mood to cook (actually heat something in the microwave) or order a delivery that will arrive way too late for my bedtime. So back to a calling smell that I have been noticing just outside the remote train station that I return to every night and law and behold, a new F&C place just across the street! Nice outlay, clean and most importantly a very friendly face behind the counter, after a short thinking pause (do I really need the extra inch around my waist) I walked confidently into the store and order a slandered portion of England’s best! it took some time for the fish to be cooked (yes it is only fried after you order it!) and I started chatting with the owner, nice middle age English lady that told me that they have only just opened up for business and that you should eat F&C at least once a week.

During the conversation, the man working the frying pan said nothing, at first look I guessed Greek, and there was a definite Mediterranean look to him. Once my Cod fish was done and I was eagerly waiting for it to be rapped, the lady exchanged a quick look with her husband and then asked me where I’m from. Replying that I was from the Middle east (to avoid the embarecment of explaining where Syria is!) she went to ask me from which part, slightly surprised I answered Syria (a well informed F&C owner I have to say) to be even more astonished by the question that followed, which part of Syria?!! Ok, my newly acquainted F&C owner has travelled/heard about Syria before, so when I replied by saying Damascus, I was completely taken off guard with the guy turning to his wife and telling her, I told you so!, then turning on to me and asking me in an unmistakable Shami accent, which part of Damascus (only a Shami will ask that question) I was speechless and the guy realised that and went into introducing himself, ****** from Salhieh, I returned the introduction for him to tell me, in the usual authentic shami style, "yes of course I’ve heard of the *** family, very well known!"

My newly acquainted friends were a Syrian guy who has came to this country and married this very nice British lady 15 years ago! off course the conversation could have gone on for a lot longer but they had customers walking in and I was about to miss my last bus home so I quickly said my good byes and walked back to the bus stop.

It was a really nice F&C, anyone visiting me will get the chance to try it, but what was more striking is the commercial sense behind opening such a place just outside a train station to catch all the weary travellers like me, the adventure that my new acquaintances have followed to end up in this quite corner of the English country side, it amazes me how far people will go or what they will do to follow whichever dream they have.
I don't know why Patricia & Imad have ended up opening a Fish and Chips restaurant in Kent but whatever greater power at work that led my steps there one cold winter night, I know that now I will try at least one F&C a month, not for the healthy side of it but for the much more important side of having a nice late night chat with a fellow Salhani and his lovely wife...

Come and enjoy an authentic Syrian F&C at Pine Lake's!


Wassim said...

Lovely story, if I'm ever by Kent one day I'll check them out!

abufares said...

You know what.
I put myself in your shoes and I found myself craving for F&C. Well to be honest, and although I'm not eating much of it, I love fried food. In Louisiana, Catfish & Fries with Tabasco and a cold pitcher of beer was my favorite for the weekend.
The whole story is quite good. The Salhani guy, the Brit wife, the tasty F&C...
Thank You!

BuJ said...

wow.. sounds good!
is there a postcode for this place? i love fish and chips (never called it F&C!).. i gotta try it..

if u ever visit cardiff, there's an excellent place called the albany fish bar (AFB).. it's on albany road.. and oh my lord.. it's the best F&C i tasted ever from a takeaway (which is how proper fish and chips should be)..

to my surprise the place is run by pakistanis.. but all the white brits love it more than anyone.. and it's demonstrated by the long queues .. it's also won awards.

btw, the lady told u to have fish once a week coz it's good for u and also coz in old christian traditions here you're not supposed to eat meat on a friday.. and i remember it in college they used to serve us only fish and chips on friday lunch.. i had to ask why.. and that's what they told me.

since i prefer fish to any kind of meat, i wished everyday was a friday, plus there's no question of it's suitability to eat for a muslim.