Although I'm not myself an inhabitant, nor have ever I been, of the North of England, I am of Northern parentage, know all six verses to "Sammy Shuttleworth's Party," can explain what a bass, mashing t'tea, being nesh, put wood in th'ole, and trouble at mill all are. I also inherited the love for this singular item of cuisine, which is very Northern. In fact, one co-worker of mine, who was from Huddersfield, once said that it's not Northern unless you can get graveh at t'chippeh. But even in London, where I currently reside, whenever I have something that involves chips, I must have gravy on them irregardless. Although not cod and chips and gravy, that's just foulsome. Ditto egg and chips and gravy, although egg and chips in and of itself is pretty nasty.

(Actually, Huddersfield, so... insert grumbling about wrong side o't'Pennines here.)

Well now. Chips and gravy. It's what it sounds like. A portion of chips - that's not crisps, as our colonial friends might refer to when they say chip, nor is it fries. Chips are thick cut potato cuboids deep-fried and until health and safety, wrapped in yesterday's newspaper. A portion of chips with gravy poured on them. The quality of the gravy is paramount, and ideally it should be thick and have onions in it. Often with chips and gravy you can have mushy peas, which are an institution in and of themselves.

Wikipedia tells me that in Quebec they call it "poutine" and add cheese as well.

Chips and gravy falls into that category of post-pub food in that it's full of calories, can be eaten with one's fingers (you try navigating a knife and fork with belly full of Old Crafty Hen) and helps soak up the units quite nicely. The gravy element helps the chips slide down - alas, its East Midlands rival the chip cob is a bit too dry for my liking (Unless you slather it with bowel-breakingly hot chilli sauce, then it's excellent.) It's also less likely to give you botulism than a kebab from a van. And unlike deep fried mars bar or battered pizza, it's not based on a dare.

Chips and gravy was also immortalised by The Macc Lads who did several songs extolling its virtues, notably "Beer & Sex & Chips & Gravy," but also "Lady Muck" in which the singer could tell that his bird was proper classy because "she never swore or farted when she spilt her chips and gravy", and, of course, "Eh Up, We're The Macc Lads" in which they explain that "We like chips and gravy / from t'chippy on Sunderland Street / Sometimes we 'ave pudding / And sometimes mushy peas." In addition, in 2011 a Young Tory was accused in the blogosphere of being patronising and channelling the spirit of Edwina Currie when he said he was going up north to have chips and gravy with local party branches up there.

In the meantime, if your local chippy doesn't do gravy, it is your duty to educate them.


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