Fish and chips

5 Aug

Dickon's birthday tea

We celebrated Dickon’s 3rd birthday on Whitby beach.  After a long windblown day paddling, building sandcastles and playing tug-of-war, we had fish and chips for tea.  There are few finer meals than Magpie Cafe fish and chipsfish coated in light, crunchy batter with chips that are crispy on the outside, fluffy in the middle, and liberally sprinkled with salt and vinegar.  And there are few finer places to eat fish and chips than the Magpie Cafe in Whitby.  You can eat inside the cafe or, even better, get a take away from the small shop in the basement, and sit overlooking the harbour and towards the hill of 199 steps leading to St Mary’s Church and the ruined Abbey.  There’s nothing like eating fish and chips whilst watching fishing boats landing the next catch, with hungry, squawking seagulls hovering overhead.

Our national dish isn’t actually terribly British.  After being introduced to the UK in the 17th Century potatoes became popular chipped and fried in the North of England during the 19th Century.  Fried fish was probably introduced in the 18th Century by Sephardi Jews from Spain and Portugal, with fried fish shops becoming widespread in London and the South East in the 19th century (a fried fish shop was mentioned in Dickens’ ‘Oliver Twist’).  The first combined fish and chip shop was probably the one opened in London by Joseph Malin in 1860.

The first fish and chip shop may have been in London, but one of the country’s finest is now in Whitby.  If you are ever in North Yorkshire, make the pilgrimage to the Magpie Cafe.  Your arteries may not thank you, but your taste buds will.  Just don’t let the pesky seagulls get your food.

seagull with St Mary's Church in background

This post is part of Wanderfood Wednesday. For more travel food stories, head here.

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9 Responses to “Fish and chips”

  1. Laura Driver 05/08/2009 at 10:39 am #

    We walked past The Magpie Cafe when we visited Whitby during our camping trip.

    We all commented that it must be good as there was a huge queu for the restaurant and the take-away, looking at your pictures they are worth the wait.

    … and I have never seen such big or agressive seagulls in my life!

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 05/08/2009 at 7:44 pm #

      There is always a queue outside, every time I go past it. No one seems to know that you can book a table.

  2. jessie voigts 05/08/2009 at 5:01 pm #

    OH YUM. that looks so good! and such lovely scenery.

  3. Tim Atkinson 05/08/2009 at 6:14 pm #

    I know Whitby well, and the Magpie – which was mentioned in dispatches by the Sunday Times a year or two ago. Fish n chips is never better than when accompanied by the sound of seagulls!

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 05/08/2009 at 7:43 pm #

      The Magpie has also featured in a Rick Stein programme. He said they were the best chips he’s ever tasted. It must be the dripping!

  4. marina villatoro 05/08/2009 at 9:09 pm #

    Ohmygod, I miss those so much!! When I lived in London we used to munch out on fish and chips all the time and douse it with vinegar!!!

  5. Wanderluster 06/08/2009 at 7:22 pm #

    Yum yum yum. I can’t taste the crunchiness now. And I love that last image – great use of focus!

  6. Francis 11/10/2009 at 3:10 pm #

    They look delicious. I am sooo hungry right now.

  7. TheMadHouse 07/03/2010 at 10:19 am #

    This will be us this afternoon. MadDad worked in Whitby for years and it is our fav

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