Monday, 12 October 2015

Who put fish finger sandwiches on the pub menu?

Now to my surprise I discovered that the fish finger is sixty years old.

The first rolled off Bird’s Eyes production line in September 1955 although according to one source the Americans had beaten us to it by two years.

Of all those processed foods we ate as kids the fish finger sticks out.

It was something mum trusted me to cook for my sisters and with a handful of tinned peas a splash of tomato sauce and some bread and butter it was a meal to dream for.

And like all convenience foods we soon dispensed with the peas and put it in a sandwich.
After which it ranked alongside apple sandwiches and sugar sandwiches but never have I remembered chip sandwiches.

In the case of chips you either bought them out and pretty much ate them before you got home or they were made at home in one of those open deep fat fryers and went with eggs and just occasionally bacon.  In which case the bread was used for the runny eggs and that was that.

Everyone will have their alternatives and ours also included dripping sandwiches which were only really good if you got a bit of the dark brown liquid too and had enough salt to make you thirsty for a week.

I had never forgotten the fish finger sandwich although having become veggie over three decades ago it was something that was lost to our table.

And then this Sunday in our local which sits in a 16th century building, has been a pub for three hundred years and offers some fine and interesting food I came across the FISH FINGER BUTTY which consisted of “freshly battered haddock goujons, on a warm brioche bun with tartare sauce & shredded iceberg lettuce” priced at £6.95.

All of which a long way from three cod sticks in bread crumbs served between two slices of white bread with a thin spread of butter and hint of sauce.

But not so, for the original concept was a fish finger made from herring.  At the food trial alongside the herring product there was a cod version which was purely there as a “control” but which proved the more popular.

And the rest as they say was history helped by the growing number of people who own a fridge and could buy them and leave them in for later in the week.

That said the fish finger never really won the contest in our house when pitched against “Dr Whos” which was mother’s name for blocks of corn beef dipped in batter and deep fried.

These sat beside potato pancakes which also found their way into bread and plates of bacon and plum tomatoes.

Now like anyone interested in food, healthy eating and bringing up kids on a balanced diet I have shivered at some of what we ate as youngsters and more than once have muttered about processed foods.

But processed foods have been around a lot longer than we think and fast foods bought on the street corners stretch back through Victorian times to Ancient Rome.

So I am not so surprised at the fish finger butty making it on to the pub menu.

It is there beside the “pulled pork, Italian meatballs, marinated chicken tikka, Bratwurst sausage, dips & warm Focaccia, which competes with the mushroom sweet potato cakes served with sun-blushed tomato, olive tapenade & feta-filled sweet pepper dews or Tempura king prawns."

But I guess it might be a long time before mother’s Doctor Whos make to table of for that matter my favourite of spaghetti cooked with milk and sugar.

Picture, Lausanne Road 1962, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

No comments:

Post a Comment