Eat chips, everyone, because it’s the 24th annual National Chip Week, a celebration dreamt up by the Potato Council to encourage the consumption of something we already eat in alarmingly large quantities. Let’s face it: every week is National Chip Week. Geologically speaking we live in the Holocene era, but it may as well be called the Era of Chips. Everything is mainly about chips. ‘Fish and chips, chicken and chips, burger and chips – there’s no denying it, chips go with basically anything,’ pondered a writer at getreading.co.uk, thankfully sparing us the full list.
Rigorous statistical analysis reveals that 87% of the UK population love chips, but National Chip Week will surely continue until the remaining 13% have buckled and pledged their undying allegiance to chips as they kneel before the tyrannical, chip-wielding force of the Potato Council. (By the way, If you know anyone in that miserable, simpering 13%, let them know that celebrity chip fans include Lady Gaga, Victoria Beckham, Rihanna, Kate Moss, David Walliams and Michelle Obama.)
The chip really isn’t something that needs to be promoted, but local newspapers have been diligently seeking out the best chippy in their area regardless. Yesterday, the Birmingham Mail saluted the Stonnall Fish Bar near Walsall, stating that “the superhot chips in my cone could have soldered an old-fashioned radio”, and I think you’ll agree that’s an important signifier of quality. Chip facts have been as plentiful as the chips themselves; we hoover up 1.6m tonnes of chipped potato every year, which is apparently the same weight as 14,000 blue whales, although that’s a slightly unfortunate comparison as there aren’t that many blue whales left on the planet because we ate them.
Last year, artist Prudence Staite was commissioned by the Potato Council to make sculptures of British landmarks out of chips and mushy peas, a task she took to with gusto, producing tasty-looking versions of the Angel of the North (main image, above), London Eye, Big Ben, Stone Henge, the Loch Ness Monster, and the White Cliffs of Dover.
This year, we have to content ourselves with the Cheesy Chip Stack, an extraordinary offering from the Campanile hotel chain that binds together a soaring tower of chips with a fast-solidifying mortar of melted cheese for the bargain price of £3.50 per person. If your tastes are a little more refined, the self-proclaimed “posh” Fish And Chip Shop in Islington allow you to sprinkle your chips with gold leaf salt and champagne vinegar before hurling your wallet into a nearby canal. Money-off deals and bargain chip offers are everywhere; the Steak & Lobster chain remind us that they offer ‘unlimited chips’ even when it’s not National Chip Week, while Cosmo, the riverside restaurant in York, tweeted a pressing question coupled with an irresistible opportunity: ‘National Chip Week and Pancake Day! Do the two go together? Give it a try at Cosmo.’
But it’s not all frolics with carbs. Where there are chips there is danger, and National Chip Week allows fire crews across the UK to remind us not to attempt cooking chips when we’re roaring drunk. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service are recommending the installation of heat alarms, while Darlington Fire Station instructed us to “chuck out your chip pan”. The message to the British, it seems, is clear: please, please continue eating 2.8 billion meals every year that feature chips in some way, but please exercise great caution while doing so.
Want to know what kind of ‘chip personality’ you have? Click here to take one of our favourite chip-related quizzes, from the lovely folk at Sarson’s Vinegar.
All images courtesy of Chip Week 2015