Think British food, and you’re bound to conjure up an image of fish and chips.
According to the BBC, that much-loved grease ball wrapped in yesterday’s newspaper is less Etonian and more Estonian.
Yes, fish and chips were brought to Old Blighty by the Jews.
Historian Denise Phillips told the first episode in a new BBC program ‘The Best of British Takeaways’ broadcast Tuesday that the recipe for fried fish came to the UK with Jewish refugees from eastern Europe in the 1800s.
Those Jews opened what were called fried fish warehouses, adapting an original recipe for fish that was coated in breadcrumbs and cooked on Fridays to be eaten cold on Shabbat.
The fish warehouses were mentioned in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, which was serialized between 1837 and 1839.
Some say a Jewish immigrant from eastern Europe, Joseph Malin, was the first to serve fish with chips in his warehouse in London’s Bow neighborhood in 1860.
Others credit a man called John Lees, who had a fish and chips hut in Lancashire in 1863.
By 1910, there were some 25,000 fish and chip shops, known as “chippies,” across Britain.
Batter replaced breadcrumbs when the fried fish took off commercially, co-presenter Cherry Healey told the program.
Claudia Roden said in her 1996 “Book of Jewish Food” that battered fried fish actually came from Portuguese Marranos, who practiced Judaism in secret, when they came to England in the 1700s.