For centuries the greatest minds in history have pondered the biggest questions in life. And all are agreed that ‘open or wrapped?’ is right up there.
Whichever side you are on - and let’s not pretend that, unless you are driving home, the answer is ever wrapped - fish ‘n’ chips is a gloriously golden combination of salty fatty fried stuff with a pure heart, thanks to those innocent flakes of bright white fish.
As a child, food lover Alison Clarkson was always thrilled by the warm, damp, aromatic bundles of golden love that arrived on dark, wet, windy nights, and often pondered the workings of a traditional chippy while she tucked in. So for the first of the five-part series Open or Wrapped (Radio 4, 29 September, 1.45pm) she joined eight students on a three-day course in Leeds that trains up budding fryers.
It’s been going for 20 years, started by the National Federation of Fish Fryers and now run by Mark Drummond, who swapped teaching for fish 20 years ago, and Arthur Parrington, a legend in the game and a magician with the all-important batter. “Imagine you hate somebody, then imagine what you’d do to them if you could get hold of them,” is his advice when it comes to wielding the whisk.
Students include a former city boy who dreams of life away from a desk, and two Frenchmen who want to open up a chippy in Paris. They all have three days to learn the business. And at the end a panel of pensioners will arrive, by bus, probably, to tuck in and determine whether they graduate. Now that’s pressure.