citizens of the internets (who are interested in replicating metropolitan english kebab van chips with available-in-the-US ingredients): relief is here! after nearly two years of pining for ahmed's chips and cheese (last enjoyed when mom and joe and i went on our oxford wedding scouting trip in march of '06) and telling myself that it would be asinine to approximate a £1.40 dish with like thirty bucks' worth of local ingredients (vaffanculo, midtown grocery stores!), i cracked and gave it a try. exchange rates being what they are, i won't be having the real thing for another few years, and that ain't right either.

the bad news: it was super-expensive to make chips and cheese at home. the good news: they sort of tasted vaguely authentic-ish! which translates to "twelve times better than any american fast food could ever hope to be."

ahmed's chips and cheese (take manhattan)

- alexia yukon gold julienne fries with sea salt

no, i didn't fry my own chips. i realize how wildly inauthentic that is, but i couldn't handle wasting a whole vat of oil on two people. the risk was a good one: these were a bit crispier than chips should be, but they were the right size and shape, and the malt vinegar softened them up anyway.

- gilway malt vinegar

the cheaper of the two english vinegars i found. the other, much smaller bottle claimed that it was PERFECT FOR FISH AND CHIPS! like four times, so i was pretty sure it was lying.

- kraft cracker barrel sharp white cheddar cheese

i suspect that almost any white cheddar would work.

- delouis fils garlic mayonnaise

totally could have made this myself, too (who doesn't love roasting garlic?). i reasoned that most chippers don't make aioli from scratch, though, and it would in fact be more authentic to purchase some. i even transferred the mayo to an industrial condiment squeezer to kick it up that last notch.

- ketchup (whatever, everyone has ketchup)

impossible to screw up, unless you get colored ketchup or the foofy stuff with gourmet additives, in which case you don't merit chips.

- cholula hot sauce

nobody (but nobody) wanted to sell me middle eastern hot sauce. cholula tastes good on everything else, so i took a chance.

i baked half of the bag of chips in a cake pan until they were plausibly stiff but not especially browned (about 25-30 minutes), transferred to a 6" bowl, gave a few good splashes of the vinegar, covered with two handfuls of grated cheese, drizzled with garlic mayo and ketchup, and finished with the cholula. the smell was exactly right, and the taste was close enough that i got a little misty when i had my first few bites. not priceless, exactly, but worth every penny: we miss you, ahmed!

on a related note, joe won my heart in oxford long, long ago by bringing me tortillas all the way from wales. they were a far cry from the real thing, of course, but a man who understands regional food nostalgia is a fine man indeed.


Ma said...

WTF! I brought you tortillas, salsa, and refried beans in large quantities when I came to Oxford over spring break! (Enough, in fact, to require a second suitcase to be checked...)
There just ain't no justice...

lauren said...

of course you did, but you're my mother. you're expected to know exactly what makes me homesick!

also, marrying you for bringing me that stuff would have been kind of hard to explain back home.

tom said...

Wait. You need a whole vat of oil to fry up chips? I would figure that you would basically need maybe only .5" to 1" of oil in the pan. Yes, you couldn't throw them all in there -- you'd have to do it in stages -- but you could get away with it with, maybe, a half bottle.

Then again, I know zilchish about cuisine, fashion ("linen underwear," I tells ya!), or just about anything useful.

Politics? That I know. But I am clueless about that too, on account of God-knows-what will happen today. I'm just going to take a nap now. During work, yet.

tom said...

P.S., in re Twittering of earlier today: I thought you were anti-airlocking.

(The "what would life be like if Saturday afternoon / minor network TV characters ran things" game would be entertaining only if, somehow, a Republican won in November. Indeed, it might be the only way to prevent total insanity.)

lauren said...

i'm not big on frying in general (i was baking falafel for us for a few months until joe mutinied), so i'm not much of an expert, but it's my understanding that chips are deep fried (hence the eventual genesis of gut-busting chip shop sides like the deep fried mars bar - i don't even want to know what would happen if one pan-fried a mars bar).

on kebab van chips in particular, batch frying violates the basic chip principle: chips and cheese are the best food on earth, but only for the five minutes following preparation. gotta get 'em done all at once, or you're jumbling the holy and the profane.

aside: i confess that i voted for obama this morning. in the final analysis, 1) the clinton camp's attacks put me off and 2) i realized that i was letting gender tip me toward HRC. i can wait a few more years for a president who looks like me (or uses the same bathroom, at least).


"P.S., in re Twittering of earlier today: I thought you were anti-airlocking."

just saw razor. sixes shouldn't be tortured, but they should ALWAYS be thrown out the airlock.

Edited By Siteowner

tom said...

Yeah, that was a lovely choice we had there. You can either be racist or sexist. Choose wisely. Ugh.

The attacks were a big lot of nothing. Par for the course (sadly). For me, it was (a) the Iraq War shuffle, and (b) the cold triangulations that were so famous -- and, frankly, infuriating -- during Bill's time in office. (Go away, "don't ask, don't tell," "mend it don't end it," etc.)

Weird. I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to primaries. Bill Bradley in 2000 (dropping out the day after I voted for him -- sheesh), Howard Dean in 2004 (long gone by the Illinois primary). For the first time in, like, ever, a guy who I actually like might win something.