When you think about what Italy has given the world in terms of art, culture, design, sport and food, fish and chips probably wouldn't be high up that list.
Takeaways. I'd guess many people have their favourites.
For me, it's Macari's near where I live in Dublin. Run by an Italian family, it’s always busy. And their chips are big and proper and their burgers have some salad in them. Great!
And when you think about what Italy has given the world in terms of art, culture, design, sport and food, fish and chips probably wouldn't be high up that list. Let's face it, if you've ever visited an Italian city, you're not exactly tripping over people eating spiceburgers and sausages in batter, are you?
Apparently fish and chips on this island can be traced back to the late 1800s when Giuseppe Cervi was on his way to America and mistakenly got off in Cork when his ship had a stopover. Realising Cork wasn't for him, he headed for Dublin to seek fame, fortune ... and fries.
Signore Cervi started selling roasted chestnuts outside Dublin pubs and legend has it might have roasted a potato in error. And his customers probably knew a good spud when they tasted one.
Speaking of one, thanks to the recent National Fish & Chips day, I found out where the famous “one and one” phrase for fish and chips came from – apparently Sr. Cervi's wife, Palma would ask their customers “Uno di questo, uno di quello?”, or “One of these, one of those?” and the rest is history, served in a paper bag drowning in salt & vinegar.
At the moment, we’re taking on the takeaways ourselves by way of our sponsorship of an RTE television programme of the same name, "Take on the Takeaway".
It's a simple idea - a well-known TV chef arrives at the front door of someone's house (as always happens) and is challenged to cook their favourite takeaway food but from fresh ingredients, for the same price (or cheaper) and quicker than their favourite local takeaway can deliver it.
The participants then blind taste test to see whether they prefer the home-cooked chef version, or their local takeaway. So for weeks, we toured the island from Strabane in the North to Bunclody in the South East (and places in between) taking over people's houses and kitchens for a day with a famous chef and showing how cooking food at home can be quick, easy, cheap, tasty, fun and importantly, healthy.
I would be the first to admit that this show won't end our love affair with the takeaway and I'll still drop by Macari's every now and then.
But if watching this show made just a few more people decide to cook at home at least one night a week instead of ordering over the phone, they might just begin to realise how quick and tasty home-cooked food can be.
Which would be two outcomes I would be very happy with. (Or one + one if you're a fish and chip fan)