Photographers' Blog

It’s as British as fish and chips

By Eddie Keogh

It’s been our national dish for over a 100 years now and although it’s seen some strong opposition from lasagne and chicken tikka masala, it’s as popular now as it ever was. As a young boy, I have fond memories of Dad rushing in the door with parcels of fish and chips wrapped up in last weeks newspaper. Crispy battered fish with chips covered in salt and vinegar – comfort food at it’s best.

I’ve just spent three days traveling around London’s high streets and back streets looking for Fish and Chip shops. From The Codfather in Northolt to The Rock and Sole Plaice in Covent Garden. I’ve met every nationality working behind the counter and queuing in front of the counter, which confirms it’s broad appeal. Back in 1995, British people were demolishing an incredible 300 million portions of fish and chips every year!

The birth of fish and chips has an interesting international story. We hadn’t even clapped eyes on a potato until they were bought back from South America by the conquistadors in the 17th century. It was the French who invented the chip and the Jews who brought deep fried fish to Britain. There are differing opinions but it’s claimed that the first combined fish and chip shop was opened by a Jewish immigrant, Joseph Malin, within the sound of Bow Bells in East London around 1860. The importance of this national dish was never clearer than during World War II when the British government made sure fish and chips were one of the few foods that was never rationed.

It became the Friday evening meal of choice for the more devout Catholics who refrained from touching meat on a Friday (though this is also a custom which remains popular for British people in general). But if you’re visiting London for the Olympics, remember they’re open every day of the week. So tuck in to a portion of fish and chips but just don’t expect to run the 100 meters under 10 seconds afterwards.

Almost knightly

By Lisi Niesner

This is not a story of knights; no knight’s armor, no knight’s castles – not even swords. It does consist of plenty of honor, pride, old-fashioned traditions and to top it off a codex. Now when I imagine the Middle Ages, I believe some farmers must have been quite close to chivalry.

SLIDESHOW: AUSTRIAN VILLAGE CELEBRATIONS

In times past, Austrian residents of Gailtal valley, mainly Noriker horse breeders, took advantage of their surefooted draught horses and operated a trade of wine and salt across the Alps. During these journeys they likely imitated or adapted what they discovered into a custom which lasted centuries and continued to the present day. The first written records of Kufenstechen did not appear before 1630, but we know that the rite is far older and likely related to knight festivals.

I arrived the night before the celebrations in Feistritz an der Gail, a village of around 660 in the province of Carinthia. Anticipating their most important annual upcoming festivity, I expected that everyone would be in a tizzy, but instead residents went about their quiet routines.

Ages old battle for a ball

Every year on Orthodox Easter, traffic is blocked for hours on the main highway in Western Georgia to allow the men of Shukhuti village to battle for a 16-kilogram (35 pounds) leather ball, stuffed tight with sawdust, soil and topped with red wine.

Villagers from upper and lower Shukhuti gather under an old tree in front of the abandoned building, formerly the House of Culture during Soviet times. Divided into two teams, they face each other and trade cries, egging themselves on. Father Saba, the local Orthodox priest, carries the ball surrounded by his helpers like bodyguards to throw the ball into the crowd. Lelo has begun.

The playground stretches between two brooks, about 150 meters apart, marking the goal lines for the two teams. The aim is simple: whichever side is the first to carry the leather ball back to their brook wins the game. The game looks like rugby, but without rules, except one: if someone falls, the match is paused to allow a player to stand up. Nothing else can stop them.