Flaherty’s Fish Fridays, PROPER Fish & Chips in Ibiza
‘Proper’ Fish & Chips
(adjective) BRITISH, 1) denoting something that is truly what it is said or regarded to be; genuine. “she’s never had a proper job” 2) of the required or correct type or form; “an artist needs the proper tools”
(adverb) BRITISH informal dialect, 1) satisfactorily or correctly. “my eyes were all blurry and I couldn’t see proper”
‘Proper’ is an unusual word if you think about it. When used in its original adjective form, especially in the middle English of Downton Manor’s upstairs family, it denotes the very pinnacle of English language clipped correctness. But take ‘proper’ to an inner city estate and in adverb form it would have Carson the Butler cursing of its usage being anything but ‘proper’. Strange that a word meaning correctness can be used in totally different contexts at opposite ends of the social economic demographic, neither of which would agree that the other’s use is ‘proper’ English as they consider it.
Though much of life is historically dictated by what we used to call the class system, there are a few things that have always traversed such barriers in all British and Irish homes. Everybody from m’lady to tea-lady loves to talk about the weather and we are world leaders in the art of queuing. In our food and drink, ever since the keys came off the caddy tea has been a beverage for all, and ever since somebody had the bright idea of throwing everything into a vat of hot fat, Fish and Chips has been a meal loved by all. I mean who doesn’t like fish and chips?
It doesn’t matter where it is served, from newspaper clad take away on a bracing Skegness Prom, to Poisson et Frites in the salubrious surroundings of the savoy grill, surely there are not many native English speakers upstairs or down who could resist a liberal sprinkling of salt and sarsons before tucking in? But this does come with one very important caveat. Fish and chips, above all other meals, has to be PROPER.
In that respect I am delighted to announce to the entire cross section of Ibiza’s expat community that Flaherty’s in San Antonio do their fish and chips proper (adverb) proper (adjective).
The fish and chip supper is available whenever the kitchen is open, but the thinking man will want to go Fridays when the catch of the day is double the fish for the regular price.
So let me run you through the proper-ness, starting at the top.
The batter is proper. Whatever they may claim, neither Aunt Bessie nor Cap´n Birdsye have ever come close to achieving as good as freshly battered – it is not possible. And the crisp and tasty Flaherty´s fish is as good evidence as you´ll ever get of that absolute truth.
The chips are proper. Ditto Aunt Bessie and Cap´n Birdseye again, and the thin cut fries of generic takeaways are worse still, but also let us bring in the gastro pub fraternity in their failed efforts to recreate that proper chip shop taste. We don´t want triple cooked fries presented in a latticework tower on a bed of wilted regret, we want proper chips. It is that simple and I won´t need to elaborate beyond the descriptor ‘proper’ to any British or Irish reader. Flaherty´s tick our chip shop boxes by the golden brown flavoursome proper plate-load.
Proper peas. Of course.
Proper bread. It could have come off a Mother´s pride van this morning.
Proper Butter. Praise the sweet baby Jesus, when did you last get a proper pat of butter instead of a plastic entombed portion that would finally gain sufficient temperature to become spreadable just as you are finishing your meal? For this one thing alone, this proper butter, I now love Flaherty´s.
Proper salad – by which of course I mean there was none. I love salad as much as the next man, but it has no place sharing a plate with Fish and Chips. The two things are as ideologically challenged as Hitler and Stalin, and we know how their buddying up together turned out.
OK there was a lemon wedge – debatable in its plate-worthiness in my book, but in keeping the Lord Granthams of the world happy, we´ll allow it.
Those of a lemon squeezing persuasion will also be delighted with the little pot of tartare sauce. And yes of course the Tartare sauce was proper (adverb) proper (adjective).
To ensure the citrus slither didn´t give anybody the wrong idea of unfitting pretensions of grandeur, we were also served a mini-jug of curry sauce and gravy. The perfect way back to backstreet corner chip shop culture – and for some of us heathens it doesn´t get more proper (adverb) proper (adjective) than that.
We all have our preferences and for me you can keep your pint or pop, I have always liked fish and chips with a cuppa. How was mine served at Flaherty´s? How else but strong and in a mug? Or to put it another way, the proper way.
Now anybody reading this in the UK may wonder what all this fuss is about. Though under the cosh from a thousand combi-kebab-pizza-chicken shops per square mile, chances are they can find proper fish and chips within a still-hot-when-you-get-back distance of home.
Well the thing of it is, we can´t. Proper fish and chips is a rare treat indeed. Though the menu at Flaherty´s will not sate my desire for Rock Eel (it’s a south east thing), nor can I have a savaloy or pickled egg whilst waiting for my fish n chips to be served, (those treats will seem all the sweeter when I return to the UK), what they do give me is a reliably regular supply of one of the few remaining great hankerings from home.
Or to put it properly, proper brilliant.
In wanting to sample as wide a range of chip shop favourites as possible, we thought it our duty to order one of Flaherty’s Pies along with our Fish supper.
Having raved about the fish you would reasonably expect the pie to be in for second billing, but in proving what a tough job we food reviewing folk have ( 🙂 ), it really is not that simple.
The Pie cannot feature as part of the ‘proper’ text above as in chip shop terms, i.e. a Pukka Pie in a foil tray, it isn’t ‘proper’.
What it is however, is truly delicious.
The puff pastry top of our Chicken and Mushroom pie covers a filling of the finest full flavour.
Packed with chunks of meat and veg, but it was the sauce that sang a song of ‘eat me’, a song that makes what should be an easy Friday choice of Fish far more difficult than it has any right to be.
On balance, given the double portion, yes I’d probably go for fish. Any other day and I may well be a super pie guy.
Both would be greedy right?
Flaherty’s is open Friday Saturday and Sunday in December until the 18th when they close for a short break.
See their facebook page for info and times, including special Christmas events.