One of the best qualities of British food is that it’s, unapologetically, exactly what they want to eat. None of this cauliflower-as-steak nonsense in the spirit of “elevating the vegetable,” although I’m usually on-board with the concept. I elevate Brussels sprouts with fried chicken liver. There is one sandwich in England eaten frequently enough to pique Jamie Oliver’s wrath. It’s something you consume only in dreams, because, all apologies, America doesn’t do the chip butty.
A sandwich consisting of fries — chips, if you want to get technical — on buttered white bread with ketchup or vinegar may be considered an oddity even by those with the most baffling secret childhood sandwiches, but the Brits take it pretty seriously. It’s not just a handful of greasy fries shoved willy-nilly between two slices of bread. A proper chip butty’s contents are arranged to minimize the amount of space in between fries. This way, the creator can stack multiple layers to maximize the volume of fries while minimizing the chance of a lumpy, unattractive sandwich.
Speaking of lumpy and unattractive, British authorities have all but declared war on the chip butty’s reign over children, who frequently eat them before and after school. Since the British school system hasn’t seen so much as a fry since Oliver “revolutionized” lunch (hey, who doesn’t love a miniscule slice of low-fat pizza on a Friday?), the sandwich is naturally enjoying the peak of its popularity. It’s simple supply and demand, folks.
The butty’s second-most devoted demographic are the drunk and recently drunk, an audience we here at Food Republic rely on for our livelihoods. Thank you, all of you. For years, you pre-conditioned your stomachs with grease and carbs, the precise lubrication necessary to sustain decades of moderate to heavy drinking. Well done. Spot on. God save the chip butty.