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Thursday, October 13, 2005


The Peacemakers

Came in from a footsore day today, put my feet up to be greeted by a household full of gripes, groans, complaints and whinging. Wife, kids and dog were all carrying on like there was a major crisis. After ten minutes, this situation showed no sign of desisting so I was forced to raise my voice above the din of complaint.

“Look, if you lot give me some peace and quiet, do you fancy some home fries?” Said I, when the babel like din could be tolerated no longer. The whole house fell to blessed silence for a moment before youngest piped up with an enthusiastic “Yes please!”
“Yes please!” Said eldest.
“The usual dear?” Asked the ever perceptive Mrs Sticker as yours truly rolled up his sleeves and headed for the kitchen. “Thank you.” I said while I raided the vegetable rack and checked all the ingredients were available. A large glass of Sicilian red was duly delivered to my hands while I was still peeling spuds.

The Sticker household is in unanimous agreement when it comes to the Bill Sticker recipe for chips. They love them. Not stodgy but light and easily digestible. Not greasy, not thin, not complicated or fancy, just good honest chips. Pommes frites for the serious devotee. French fries which even the French might consider an even longer lunchtime. My nickname for these humble preparations is ‘Peacemakers’ because they can shut my family up.

The preparation is simple, but ingredients are key;

Potatoes. These have to be one of the ‘baking’ varieties such as Cara or Estima. Nothing too floury or too waxy.
Cooking oil. Just Mr Tesco or Mr Sainsbury’s bog standard Sunflower seed / Olive oil mix in 95% / 5% proportion. No sense in using extra virgin as it adds nothing to the flavour.

1 large baking potato will serve 1 person.

First; Switch off telephone / TV / Radio and ignore doorbell.

Second; Peel the potato(es), removing any scabs or discolouration etc. Now cut potato into 12mm (approx 3/8 Inch) slices, thence into the same width to produce chips of an approximate square section for evenness of cooking. Spread chips on clean chopping board to dry off while the oil is heating up.
Third; Using an oldish large saucepan (4-5pint capacity for safety’s sake) put just over half a litre (or 1 pint) of sunflower seed oil into saucepan and put over heat. Add a generous double splodge of Olive Oil. Wait until hot.

To test whether the oil is hot enough, dip a chip into the oil and watch. If the oil begins to boil slightly, it is ready, if it boils a lot then turn the head down a little. Drop test chip in from side of pan (Not directly overhead as hot oil will splash your skin and hurt rather a lot.). Oil should boil around the chip rather like water just before it boils. When this happens, put first chipped potato in carefully so it doesn’t splash. This is because splashed hot oil a) Burns b) Can leave nasty marks on your kitchen ceiling c) Takes your skin off d) Hurts rather a lot e) Annoys Mrs Sticker f) Upsets Fire Brigade / emergency services.

When cooking properly the hot oil should foam over the chips. Shake pan gently every couple of minutes to ensure chips do not stick to the bottom.

The chips are cooked when they are golden in colour and float in the hot oil. Switch off heat. Lift chips from hot oil using steel, long handled utensil, this can be a spatula or a draining spoon, either will do. Drain excess oil off chips by putting them in a warm (Not hot) sieve for two minutes. While still hot, put on plate, add salt to taste.

Put large blob of mayonnaise (Not salad cream, bozo!) on side of plate. Dip end of salted chip in mayonnaise, eat. These are suitable for vegetarians, vegans, most religious factions and people who dress up like Mr Spock at Star Trek Conventions.

It is my and my families contention that if Neville Chamberlain had served Adolph Hitler these chips, World War II would never have happened. Had the UN offered Saddam Hussein these chips in exchange for a peaceful handover of power in Iraq, there would have been no Gulf Wars. Jihadis would think twice about becoming suicide bombers. Iran and North Korea would agree to permanent Nuclear decommissioning. The French would allow British meat to cross their borders.

Such is the potential for generating world peace with a humble potato correctly prepared; I think it is my duty to humanity to offer this recipe to posterity. Eat, enjoy, and if you can’t get it right, there’s always the chip shop.


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Location: British Columbia, Canada

Exasperated expatriate expostulations all the way from British Columbia, Canada. As if anyone really cared. Oh, I also watch Icelandic Volcanoes and seismic activity. Don't ask me why.

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