Fish & chips: a golden hunk of battered cod, accompanied by thick-cut French fries, lightly sprinkled with malt vinegar, and wrapped up in a newspaper.... It's as British as cricket, cream teas, the class system, and colonialism, but it's actually the relatively recent marriage of a Jewish fish-frying tradition and a Franco-Belgian potato snack. What's more, in something of a twist, the fish itself—cod, a burly bottom-feeder with tender, flaky white flesh—ended up helping fuel U.S. independence. This episode, we're telling the peculiar story of how two non-British foods became such a quintessentially British dish—and how our appetites transformed international relations, as well as an entire ocean ecosystem.
Self-titled "seafood evangelist," Barton Seaver was an award-winning chef before he left the restaurant industry to become a sustainable seafood educator. He is the author of the cookbook For Cod and Country as well as American Seafood: Heritage, Culture, and Cookery from Sea to Shining Sea.
Mark Kurlansky is the author of the book Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, which won a 1999 James Beard award.
Nicky Perry is the owner of A Salt & Battery, a fish and chip shop—or chippy, as she and Gastropod's own Nicky would call it—in Manhattan's West Village.
Fish and its life partner, chips, at the West Village's A Salt & Battery. Photos by Nicola Twilley.
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