I spent my study abroad semester at St. Andrews University in Scotland. A time of discovery when I walked the beaches (where they filmed Chariots of Fire), and learned to live on my own. Now, of course, I have Sir, and the thought of living on my own scares me, but I digress.
But this experience also taught me a beautiful thing about life, junk food. And not just any junk food, but a taste symphony only known as chips and cheese. For Americans that have never experienced such a beauty, this is taste sensation is simply french fries covered in mozzarella cheese. I know, it sounds too simple, and it is. You can find this offered at almost any chip shop in the UK. I am sure most people would order it as a side dish, rather than a meal.
But the chippie in St. Andrews was special. Upon request they would cover this simple pairing with a generous portion of ketchup and garlic mayonnaise. I know, I know, but trust me. As you leave the shop you hold the box securely closed and shake. The condiments mix and warm as the cheese melts over the piping hot chips. And when you open the box you can’t believe you ever considered sharing. Once, once I shared an order with a friend after a night at the pub and we almost stopped speaking. After that, everyone got their own, even if you were not all that hungry, because no one was going to give you a bite.
I will admit that this concoction was not my idea. It was introduced to me my another student as we walked home from a particularly entertaining karaoke night. But I never stopped ordering it.
I have tried to replicate it at home. The states has steak fries that resemble British chips, but it is still not the same. And I cannot begin to make the sauce balance work. It was just a thing of beauty. I have not even been able to find other chip shops that carry the mayonnaise.
But I still order chips and cheese when I am here, even if it is not from that fairytale chip shop in St. Andrews; it’s a tradition now. And I will encourage and help any chippie that wants to open up shop in the states to do so, because there is just nothing like it.