In a purportedly Irish pub in New Hampshire, greygarious was served fish and chips wrapped in newspaper. The fish and chips “were put onto a piece of white parchment-like sandwich-wrapping paper such as delicatessens use, then completely wrapped in newspaper which was folded over to seal it up,” says greygarious. “It was awkward to open and slide the sandwich sheet onto the plate without losing anything, not to mention that fried foods don’t take well to being ‘steamed’ this way, however briefly.”

Originally, explains bushwickgirl, fish and chips were served in newspaper without any greaseproof wrapping. That was added when concerns arose about toxic ink in the 1970s. In the old style, what they did was this: “Take approximately 3 pages of newspaper and lay it out in front of you. Dump a scoopful of chips in the centre. Top the mound with a crisply battered piece of haddock (or soggy battered piece of cod, as is more usual),” says Harters. “As you walk home, you unwrap … balancing a large portion of F & C in one hand, with newspaper billowing about, whilst eating with your other hand (occasionally managing to reach into your jeans pocket for the bottle of beer you bought before going to the chippy). Ah, the joys of Friday nights.”

There are also different aesthetics at work here. “I may be wrong about this, but I’m not sure if the crispiness of the fried fish is really the most important aspect of fish and chips to the Brits,” says bushwickgirl. “The chips sort of steam and get soggier, which is just how we like ’em—fat hand-cut chips made of real potatoes,” says smartie. “The fish isn’t really supposed to be crispy either.”

Discuss: Tradition of wrapping fish & chips in newspaper

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