We Didn't Invent Fish and Chips: Gourmets Say "Traditional" Dishes Are Being Bastardised, but They Are Missing the Point

By West, Patrick | New Statesman (1996), January 23, 2006 | Go to article overview

We Didn't Invent Fish and Chips: Gourmets Say "Traditional" Dishes Are Being Bastardised, but They Are Missing the Point


West, Patrick, New Statesman (1996)


Although ostensibly a means of securing sustenance and pleasuring the palate, food often has the capacity to bring out the nationalist in people. Regard the manner in which the French boast of their excellence in the kitchen, haughtily deriding the Americans for their sorry excuse for a national dish: McDonald's. Witness Italians sneer at the imitation pizzas found in Britain and the US, or how Indian visitors recoil in horror from menus found in curry houses in the UK, with their strange, mangled neologisms. Food can be a source of pride, and it can thus be distressing when restaurants tamper with national dishes.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Gastronomy continues to be a source of anxiety. Earlier this month Terence Conran made known his displeasure at the barbarisation of restaurant menus in Britain, excoriating the proliferation of "franglais" gibberish. The restaurateur David Tang has since expressed his own concerns about the state of Chinese food here, lamenting "chop suey" and "foo yung" as "ridiculous" inventions of the 1960s.

It is odd how cooking brings out the Platonic essentialist in culinary connoisseurs. After all, one of cuisine's defining features is its capacity to evolve and innovate, with one culture appropriating a dish from another and fashioning something entirely new from it. What is more, the idea that there is such a thing as a "traditional national" dish is phoney, first because many of them are borrowed or adapted from elsewhere, and second because the idea of "authentic" national food is just as erroneous as that of an "authentic" national culture.

Consider the pizza. In 2004 the then Italian ambassador to the UK, Luigi Amaduzzi, complained about the fare being served in Britain in his country's name. "A pizza base covered with pineapple or with curry is no more Italian than a steak-and-kidney pie covered with chocolate is English." To Italians, a pizza simply consists of flat bread, tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Although some claim that the pizza dates back to Roman times, tomatoes are a New World fruit, and the pizza as we know it may not have been invented until the 18th century--which is before the creation of the Italian state itself.

Other "traditional" Italian dishes are even more suspect. Fettuccine primavera was invented in New York. So was chicken tetrazzini. And caesar salad and spaghetti with meatballs are similarly American creations. As one observer put it: "By the 1950s Italian-American food was all but unrecognisable to visitors from Italy. A businessman from Turin might peruse a menu in an Italian restaurant in Chicago and not be able to decipher a single item. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

We Didn't Invent Fish and Chips: Gourmets Say "Traditional" Dishes Are Being Bastardised, but They Are Missing the Point
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.