Queues ‘going out the door’ for Italian fish and chip day

Half-price fish and chips makes trade double

Thu, May 30, 2013, 09:27

If Giuseppe Cervi had a better sense of direction, we may have never discovered the joys of Italian fish and chip shops. He was bound for America in 1885 when the ship stopped in Cobh. Cervi alighted, believing he was in the US but after failing to locate the Statue of Liberty, he made his way to Dublin.

The entrepreneurial Italian began selling chestnuts from a coal-fired handcart and after roasting a potato one day, he hit on the idea of selling chips. A few years later, he opened Cervi’s fish and chip shop on what is now Pearse Street and one by one, relatives joined him. Now there are there are up to 6,000 Irish Italians here, with surnames like Borza, Macari and Aprile and many of them are running chippers. “Probably about 90 per cent of us are from the same village in Val Di Comino, ” says Peter Borza, chairman of the Irish Traditional Italian Chipper Association.

He was speaking as he tucked into a “one and one” in his P Borza shop in Dublin’s Christchurch. Today is National Fish and Chip Day, an initiative started by the Irish Traditional Italian Chipper Association to celebrate the unique identity of their shops. The first day was held in 2010 when the Italians noticed that some fast food outlets were cheekily passing themselves off as Italian with foreign sounding names. Now the genuine Italian chippers carry a sticker to show their authenticity and they offer half price fish and chips on National Fish and Chip Day. It is paying off handsomely for the association’s 200 or so shops. “There will be over 200,000 people going through the doors of our shops today,” he says, a more than doubling of the usual numbers. “Last year we went through 450,000 lbs of potatoes and 70,000 lbs of fish. Around six o’clock there are queues out the door. And we get a knock-on for the rest of the week as it puts fish into people’s minds.”


Fish and Chips Day

But what about the waistline? He says a portion of fish and chips (180g fish and a regular portion of chips) comes in at 595 calories. “That surprises a lot of people but that’s a scientific fact. We are actually the least processed of the take-away foods. Our spuds are fresh, the same with the fish.” He doesn’t recommend fish and chips every day “but it’s a nice treat to have. It makes people happy. And you have to break out every now and then”.

Frank Thomas was delighted to be breaking out in P Borza’s. “I love chips. They remind me of going to matches years ago. The first thing you smell when you walk into the grounds is the old chipper van,” he says. “I’m a chipaholic really.”