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It’s everyday fare, even for foreigners who have lived in England for a while, as common as a pint or a left-handed stick shift. But the indomitable fish and chips has a varied history tied to the isle’s hardships and the very survival of its citizens.

It tastes quite good, as well. Some restaurants have started offering higher-end versions of a fried filet, chips and mushy peas, but the dish is still at its basic best when served up crispy and hot at your local chippy.

Strains on cod and haddock fisheries in the North Atlantic may soon require a new kind of fish to be fried. But regardless of the future, the dish has a centuries-long connection to England.

The dish has been around in one variety or another since the late Victorian era, according to the Web site www.icons.org.uk, a repository of English phenomena.

Throughout economic depressions and war, the simple meal has provided sustenance to a nation.

It was a staple of the working-class and poor urban families in England’s city centers, providing filling, fishy nutrition.

Even during World War II, the dish’s popularity helped make it one of the few foods that was not rationed, despite scarce supplies, according to the Web site.

The first recognizable fish-and-chips shop opened in East London in 1860. Until hygiene concerns axed the practice in recent decades, fish and chips was served hot and wrapped in newspaper.

Indian food and curries in particular may have taken the top pedestal as England’s national food, but they don’t fry much Indian fare, and you sure as heck don’t get those healthful Omega-3 acids when you pass up the fish and chips.

Foods that are simple, satisfying and a bit junky remain culinary staples. And as long as there’s fish in the sea, you can bet your cod that your chippy will take care of you.

Got a question about something you’ve seen or heard around the United Kingdom? E-mail us at: uknews@estripes.osd.mil.

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