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Fish and Chips in Zion, 1936

By: Ardis E. Parshall - July 15, 2013

From the Millennial Star, 9 April 1936 –

They came nearly five hundred strong. Every portion of food was served in a piece of yesterday’s newspaper – and paid for with a British copper.

It was the first annual winter social of the British Mission Association, held in Salt Lake City February 28. Into a hall almost too small they poured in a seemingly endless stream. At the door they paid 15 American cents and received in exchange an English penny. Even the feel of the large copper coin was a delight. But the real thrill, bringing to many a sore touch of homesickness, came when the penny was set on a counter between vinegar bottles and salt shakers in exchange for some honest-to-goodness fish and chips.

Then some of the old dances. Even a try at the veleta. And a grand climax of familiar songs with God Save the King a final ringing chorus.

On the stage in the background was a large Union Jack, flanked on one side by a smaller model and on the other side by the Stars and Stripes.

That peculiar smell of hot fat, of crisped potatoes, and of fish – filleted, dipped in batter and then browned – filled the hall. Greasy fingers, squares of news print and broad smiles best told the story.

In order to get fresh, suitable fish it was necessary to telegraph to Seattle and import it by special delivery a distance of nearly 800 miles. Two boys from England, at home behind the tiled counters, with a returned missionary, handled the kettles.

The British Mission Association is active in keeping alive the happy memories of saints and missionaries who have lived in Britain. More than that, it is endeavouring in every way possible to cultivate the spiritual interests of its members.

Temple excursions are held at which work is done for British dead. Sunday night meetings are sponsored to keep British missionaries active, and at the same time acquaint the people of Utah with the spirit of a British branch and the atmosphere of the mission field.

At the time of the annual Spring General Conference of the church a reunion is held at which an excellent programme is given, followed by dancing. In the summer an outdoor event is held, a holiday which brings to mind Whit Monday or August Bank holiday when the branch rambles over the hills with lunches and balls.

Then at the time of the fall General conference another reunion is held similar to the one in the spring. And now we have had a winter party – and we hope to have one every year.

Midnight came quickly. The heat under the kettles was shut off. The crowd filled out to go to their homes all over the city. One lad from Lancashire opened the kitchen door a little, took a deep breath of the scented air, and remarked, “Eh, ba gum, ’twas a good party.”

– By Elder Gordon B. Hinckley



15 Comments »

  1. Oh the foods we miss. There are my childhood foods such as tamales and prickly pear jelly and the melons and fruits that just don’t taste the same grown in other regions.

    Then there are the mission foods: lovely German soups and sausages and pastries and rye breads and Brötchen and Knödel.

    Then there were the regional specialties in each place I’ve lived since then, such as the inexpensive, abundant produce in San Diego, most particularly the strawberries.

    Unfortunately the regional specialities where I currently live are not things I like. Scrapple, cheesesteak, shoo-fly pie, tomato pie. Shudder. Not even a decent donut to be found. (Of course, who needs donuts.)

    Comment by Amy T — July 15, 2013 @ 7:20 am

  2. Gordon!

    Comment by Edje Jeter — July 15, 2013 @ 7:57 am

  3. Now I am hungry, and it is nowhere near lunch time yet. GBH had quite the writing style.
    [I’ll nod the “who need donuts” reference. He he.]

    Comment by Bruce Crow — July 15, 2013 @ 7:58 am

  4. Ah, fish and chips. On the east coast of Scotland, just a few miles south of the Center Place of Golf Zion, there’s a shop that claims to sell the best fish and chips in the UK. I’ve never seen (or eaten) any evidence to the contrary.

    So, who’s up for a quick trip to Scotland? With or without donuts.

    Comment by Mark B. — July 15, 2013 @ 8:22 am

  5. I keep telling my British friends that the breaded fish of Seattle is superior to the battered fish of Albion. This is universally disregarded as absurd.

    Comment by J. Stapley — July 15, 2013 @ 8:43 am

  6. Where are you from, Amy? New Mexico? My wife used to go out in the arroyos harvesting prickly pear for jelly! (I tried to avoid that job)

    But mission foods? Brazilian lingüiça sausage! Aah! Just don’t watch it being made which unfortunately I did once. But it’s so good I still eat it.

    Comment by Grant — July 15, 2013 @ 9:18 am

  7. I second Stapley’s mention of the superior aspects of Seattle breaded fish. And I am sending a link to this post to my English cousin. He will appreciate this.

    Comment by kevinf — July 15, 2013 @ 10:26 am

  8. I’m going to keep in mind that use of foreign pennies as tokens. Could be fun at a Primary activity or such.

    Comment by John Mansfield — July 15, 2013 @ 10:46 am

  9. I just send Captain Crunch with Crunchberries to my missionary in Canada. They have Captain Crunch, but not Crunchberries. He requested some specifically, and we never even had cold cereal at home. But that taste of home is important.

    Comment by Carol — July 15, 2013 @ 10:53 am

  10. Arizona, Grant. It’s a great activity for Labor Day weekend, since it’s a fairly labor-intensive process, from picking the fruits to preparing them (getting rid of all those tiny spines) to making the jelly. It does make an amazingly beautiful and delicious jelly, though.

    Comment by Amy T — July 15, 2013 @ 12:17 pm

  11. Awesome, Ardis. Thanks for this.

    Comment by Christopher — July 15, 2013 @ 4:39 pm

  12. I actually prefer breaded fish, but luckily, Scottish fish & chip shops will happily oblige on that score. Mark B., next time I’m in Anstruther I’ll have a bag of chips and think of you :-)

    Comment by Alison — July 15, 2013 @ 5:32 pm

  13. Gee, thanks, Alison. Next time I’m there I’ll ring you up and invite you to join me.

    Comment by Mark B. — July 15, 2013 @ 5:46 pm

  14. The journalism geek in me is thrilled to read some of Pres. Hinckley’s writings showing his skill as a journalist!

    Comment by Chad Too — July 15, 2013 @ 9:53 pm

  15. I remember my sister-in-law bringing several recipes home that she got from her Amah in Hong Kong. I still use a couple of them. And my oldest son’s wife has learned to make a green pureed vegetable soup from Portugal that is really quite good. Thankfully, he doesn’t insist upon cracking a raw egg on top of the soup in the bowl.The first time that happened to my husband and me we freaked out because it looked like a big eye staring at us. After that, we asked that the cook leave the egg out.

    Comment by Maurine — July 15, 2013 @ 11:28 pm

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