FUSH N CHUPS
My mum cooked dinner every night of the week but like our Heavenly Father, on the fifth day she rested - that is, on Fridays we had fish n chips.
The best place was a caravan with fairy lights next to the BNZ bank and they offered Kumara (New Zealand’s version of sweet potato) fries which were very fancy at the time. It was the only day of the week we were allowed to eat dinner watching tv and me and my brother would fight for the best armchair that had the best viewing capabilities.
Fish n Chips, without a doubt, are the most popular take-away food at home and the only fast food I miss. So it is a great tradition when I return home to New Zealand that my first dinner with the family MUST be fish & chips - preferably accompanied by a Gin n Tonic with lemons stolen from the neighbor's tree.
There is this really special takeout within 5 minutes of my parents house - “past 16b’s horses, through the cemetery, take a left at the abandoned railway carriage and continue on around the bottle shop”. You walk in and ring a bell, this alerts the teenager taking a “smoko”. They’re always smiley and polite and write your order on blank scrap paper - 1 scoop of chips, crumbed snapper is my order and maybe a deep-fried pineapple ring if I’m feeling indulgent - he rings it up on a register that looks like a toy, and, even though I’m the only one in the shop, hands me a popsicle stick with a handwritten number on it that corresponds to my order. I appreciate the stickler in him that insists on following procedure and wonder if he’s willing to relocate to the restaurant I run in the Catskills.
There is always a poster of all the New Zealand Commercial Fish Species and many trashy magazines to make sure you know what local tv celebrity is having a baby or leaving their husband. Your order is called - again, I’m still the only one here - and he insists on me handing back the stick, again, I’m hiring...and I tuck the warm package under my arm and can’t wait til I get home and tear the paper to sneak some hot chips out before getting home.
Without fail it makes me smile and I wonder how I can recreate the same experience back here. However I think the key to the whole operation (at least for me) are the accents, the salty breeze of the ocean and charming lack of finesse that would have trouble translating, and so (thankfully for my waistline) it remains a treat I have to fly 8915 miles for.