Egg and chips
Egg and chips became popular in Britain during World War I due to a shortage of meat. It was a favourite food of Tommies behind the lines on the Western Front in northern France and Belgium, eaten at makeshift shops called "estaminet" alongside cheap wine and beer.
Egg and chips is associated with a working-class diet. In an article on moving from the working class to the middle class, a British journalist recounted that "There are things I grew up with that I still love—pub life, darts, egg and chips". Jack Charlton, after playing in the World Cup-winning England football team in 1966, remarked: "We stopped the car for egg and chips in a transport cafe. We'd eaten nothing but the best food for weeks and I was dying for some ordinary grub." The image of British people insisting on ordering egg and chips while on holiday abroad has also been used as a stereotype.
In a study on the perceptions of social inequality of people in North West England, "Beer, fags, egg and chips" was highlighted by the researchers as an example of individual behaviour thought to be connected to poor health.
Food writer Mary Cadogan says that "Egg and chips for me is a marriage made in heaven. Whenever I feel the need of a bit of comfort eating this is the dish I usually turn to." Heston Blumenthal, owner of the Michelin star award-winning Fat Duck restaurant in Berkshire, wrote in The Guardian that "You can't get much more British a dish than fried egg and chips."
In popular culture
The dish features in art as well as in real life. Egg and chips occupies a pivotal moment in the suffocating life of a working-class Liverpool housewife in Shirley Valentine. "Because it's Thursday, Shirley knows that Joe expects steak and chips for his tea. He is getting egg and chips instead... But Joe ... is not pleased at his meatless meal. He pushes his plate into her lap. That settles it. Two weeks later he comes home and finds an empty house."
The dish's status as a cornerstone of authentic British cuisine is solidified by its regular inclusion in modern popular culture. It features regularly in television depictions of British life, such as the long-running soap series Coronation Street, where it constitutes part of recurring character Johnny "Doc" Docherty's infamous catch phrase, "You've just had your tea, Lesley - Egg and Chips!".
- Santanu Das, ed. (11 November 2013). The Cambridge Companion to the Poetry of the First World War. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107470088.
- Sadler, John; Serdiville, Rosie (19 August 2017). Tommies: The British Army in the Trenches. Casemate. ISBN 978-1612004853.
One Belgian dish really caught on and was taken home: egg and chips
- Ashley Jackson, ed. (26 June 2017). The British Empire and the First World War. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1317374657.
'Tummy' shows a French peasant woman who has rustled up the usual menu for soldiers, egg and chips.
- Paul Collinson, Helen Macbeth, ed. (2014). "Alternatives to the ration for British soldiers". Food in Zones of Conflict: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives. Berghahn Books. ISBN 978-1782384045.
In fact, the staple, often the only dish on the estaminets' menus was egg and chips, for which the men had an enormous passion
- Copping, Jasper (19 May 2013). "Beef tea, potato pie and duff pudding: How to eat like a WW1 Tommy". The Telegraph.
The establishments introduced into the language term for cheap wine, “plonk” from “vin blank”, and also popularised as a dish egg and chips – cheap and available food not widely on offer in the army.
- Hopwood, Beverley (18 April 1996). "Class: For Sammy the difference between being working class and middle class was a university degree. For Mike, the difference was a few million quid. They discuss the experience of moving up a class with Beverley Hopwood". The Independent. Retrieved 15 June 2009.
- "I celebrated after winning the World Cup by having egg and chips in a transport café". Evening Chronicle. 24 September 2002. Retrieved 15 June 2009.
- Driscoll, Margarette (22 August 2004). "You'd better get used to the wet". The Sunday Times. London. Retrieved 15 June 2009.
- Popay, Jennie; Bennett, Sharon; Thomas, Carol; Williams, Gareth; Gatrell, Anthony; Bostock, Lisa (2003). "Beyond 'beer, fags, egg and chips'? Exploring lay understandings of social inequalities in health". Sociology of Health & Illness. Blackwell Publishing. 25 (1): 1–23. doi:10.1111/1467-9566.t01-1-00322. PMID 14498942.
- Cadogan, Mary (10 April 2008). "Egg and chips". Good Food blog. BBC. Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 2009-06-15.
- Blumenthal, Heston (22 June 2002). "Good fry day". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 June 2009.
- Maddox, Brenda (12 February 1989). "Shirley Decides She's Had Enough". New York Times. Retrieved 15 June 2009.
- Coronation Street, 11 May 2012, Johnny Doc (Tony Hirst) deploys his catchphrase.