x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

For fish and chips, nothing beats getting it on home turf

Travelling with Kids I could do fish and chips at home, or we could have them in a restaurant, but it's not like being in the UK.

You can go to the Captain's Arms here, as I've done a few times, and order fish and chips. The two times I took my wife and daughter to the restaurant, behind Le Méridien in the Tourist Club area, Georgia ordered the fish and chips as well. She poured out ketchup on the side. I like either vinegar or Worchestershire sauce. Processed ketchup is just too sugary.

You could also, however, go to the UK and get the real thing, hot and crisp out of a Fryolator and wrapped in newsprint. And that's just what we did a few years ago on the girls' way home to Montreal for the summer: we flew to London, drove to Edinburgh and went in search of fish and chips.

That wasn't the No 1 purpose of the trip, of course, but one does have to eat, even when travelling (particularly when travelling!) and being in Britain, fish and chips it was.

I had no idea eating the British national dish was going to be that difficult. We didn't find any chip shops in Edinburgh. Yes, we could have ordered some in a pub or in a sit-down restaurant with curtains and ferns and soft music, but I wanted to give my daughter an authentic experience, standing outside a window on a busy city street - kind of the way we queue up outside the tiny Pakistani and Afghan flat-bread bakeries here in Abu Dhabi, or outside a cheesesteak sandwich shop in Philly - order our fish and chips and saunter through town.

None in Edinburgh. I would even have settled for Montrose, our next stop. Nope. Johnshaven, St Cyrus. None. Neoni. Even though they're both coastal towns and, at least in the case of Johnshaven, with a pier from which the local fishermen cast off daily.

We lucked out in the west coast town of Oban, however, and during a late-night, sky-bright walk through steeply falling temperatures and a dousing of rain, Georgia had her first kind-of authentic fish and chips. I say "kind of" because the food came in Styrofoam packaging. The verdict? She ate part of mine, too.

The night before I was to head back to Abu Dhabi and Georgia and her mother were bound for Canada, I took them to the West End to see a musical. Afterwards, peckish because the timing of the play hadn't allowed for a proper meal, we were walking by Paddington Station near our hotel on Sussex Place and tucked our heads into another fish and chip shop. We warned her it was probably too much oil that late at night, but Georgia explained she wanted to compare.

She insisted on taste-testing one more time in London, in September, when she and my wife stopped over en route here. Who knew I'd grown such a diehard?

I could do a little fry-up at home, armed with a batter recipe I developed a few years ago, and I know it'd be good. But somehow it just wouldn't be the same.

rbeauchemin@thenational.ae