Long ago, in centuries gone past, England was famous for its fish and chips. No more! Balti shops have stormed the maignot line and taken over in Birmingham. It takes a brave soul to venture into a Balt shop, for the recipe for making Balti is basically to chuck whatever meat is at hand into, you guessed it, a Balti with lots of ghee/oil and spices and stir it for 20 minutes. Voila, its the poor mans karahi! -Some- Many people claim its a Kashmiri dish, but thats just a attempt to give this fast food atrocity an exotic sounding lineage.

So we went hunting for fish and chips, and in between the hundred’s of balti shops finally came across a few. But as I said to MO, if the fish and chip shop is also selling donor kebabs and cheeseburgers, its just not cricket. Fish and chips was just about the only enduring worthwhile British tradition, so it’s a sad loss. I know they have all these funny superstitions and rituals involving this old woman in a big house, but I figure it must be some strange tribal custom which they’ll outgrow as Britain integrates into the world. But damnit, why the fish!

In the morning, I walked to the local newstand to get the morning paper. 14 of them had Britney Spears as the headline news, 10 of them had Princess Di, and one had the headline news of a local school boy whom the school banned from selling chocolate cake to his classmates. I asked the newsagent about where they kept the newspapers. In some newsagents in the US, they keep the pornographic magazines under the counter, away from where they might disturb some of the more prudish customers. I thought, maybe thay had adopted the same practice here, to save locals from the ‘real’ news. I was actually shocked when the newsagent said that they don’t stock the ‘seedy’ tabloids, and stick with real news! I read the “Guardian”: often, so this incident was quite a shock.

_from a previous “visit”: to Merry England_

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