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Fresh Air Festival Fish And Chips Reviewed

Jonathan Schofield eats battered fish, thinks too much, drinks ale: it's a sort of heaven

Written by . Published on July 9th 2013.

Fresh Air Festival Fish And Chips Reviewed

I'VE had some good fish and chips in restaurants, crackers in pubs and bars, but the best experience of fish and chips is always outdoors.

It's how they're meant to be. 

I could already hear the howling banshees of food tradition jabbering in my ear. How could they put chilli in batter? Spicy lentils not mushy peas?

Fresh air dining is one of the definitions of original fast foods alongside a lack of cutlery or crockery. Usually fast food is finger-pickin'. Or at least aided with simple wooden extras, as is the case at Fish&, with their two-pronged skinny wooden forks,

Fish& is a mobile chippy sitting in Albert Square for a limited period during Manchester International Festival (MIF). It delivers an authentic fast food experience from noon until 9pm. It will be mobile again from Thursday 11 July so enjoy its outdoor MIF joys while you can.

The enjoyment of the fish and chips can be enhanced by glugging a satisfying, vaguely flowery, 3.8% Festival Ale from Thwaites brewery in Blackburn.

The Square in the sun

The Square in the sun

The batter on the chips comes in three types; traditional, chilli and lemon, salt and black pepper.

You can sample all three on a trio of fish bites with chips for around five English pounds - festival pricing of course. To add a frisson of the exotic there's some interesting takes on chippy faves mushy peas and curry sauce.

I went for a spicy lentil which could have been a tad looser than it was in texture, but flavourwise was a fine shipmate for the fish and the chips.

The chips were substantial, full of spud and timed just right. The fish equally so, the batter light and the fish underneath hefty, flaky and the requisite opposite to the fatty crunch of the batter.

Sauce and chips and battered fishSauce and chips and battered fish

I adored the playful inclusion of chilli and lemon in one of the batters. It lifted the whole considerably and worked beautifully with gulps of refreshing ale. 

So sitting there solo, the mood tranquil, the city scene all calm and happy, I couldn't help musing on nosh. 

I could already hear the howling banshees of food tradition jabbering in my ear. How could they put chilli in batter? And spicy lentils not mushy peas? The very unspeakable thought...

Thing is, nothing should be sacred in food. That's its pleasure and its strength.

Every cuisine's been influenced and hacked about by others, by new trends, by food discoveries, by boredom with the limitations of a local cuisine, by a desire to experiment for the sheer hell of it, by being free from idiotic religious dogmas.

It struck me that European food really started to relax, flourish and improve when religious illogic started to seriously loosen a few centuries back. Just like the artists in MIF, grub has become a vehicle for entertainment or expression as well as nourishment. 

The only pure food is hunter gatherer, outmoded now, a lifestyle that doesn't really work for anybody in 2013, especially when they're sat in Albert Square - or Festival Square as it's been renamed for the duration of MIF - with the sun beating down, with fish and chips and with beer and everything all right with the world. 

Yeah, yeah, I know, I should lighten up.

That took the second beer.

Fish& has a website under construction but it does have a mobile number to call if you want to catch them on their travels. 

Blackboard in the sun


Blackboard in the sun

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield or connect via Google+

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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

JoanJuly 9th 2013.

Sounds good. I like my chips full of spud.

Carly HindeJuly 9th 2013.

Thursday is the 11th of July?

JayJuly 9th 2013.

"The batter on the chips comes in three types" ???

Jonathan MoranJuly 9th 2013.

Self indulgent tripe!

TimbucJuly 9th 2013.

Sounds good. But they're moving on Thursday? Not that helpful really. Could you let me know sooner in future or persuade them to stay longer. That'll do nicely.

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