Lactose-free Fish and Chips


Moving on to further milk products with dubious health benefits.

Last night I ate my first ever pickled herring in cream. But no ordinary pickled herring in cream: this was the 'Minus L' brand lactose-free variety. Another example of the traditional German palate colliding with the mass-marketed health food trends of recent times. Are that many of us clinically lactose-intolerant? Probably not. But why not eat the lactose-free version... it just sounds healthier.

As well as lactose-free yoghurt and lactose-free herb-quark, you can also get lactose-free meat salad, which is little strips of ham in a creamy dressing. 'Meat salad' doesn't sound all too appealing but Erik tells me it's excellent on toast.

As for my foray into pickled herrings, I liked them a lot. The cream was quite light and the sourness was yummy: a slightly fishy salt&vinegar chips vibe. It's appealing how vinegar-marinated fish becomes denser in texture. I regret turning up my nose at my Dutch father's brined pickled herrings (rollmops) for all those years.

Erik says as a kid his mum would sometimes serve these cream-spiked herrings for supper, with some rye bread on the side and grated apple on top (lunch right after school was their big cooked meal for the day).

We had them last night, sans apple, with thin sunflower-oil potato crisps and Americano cocktail on the side. It was a pretty good combo.

This sounds a bit wanky, but we had a really nice Americano with Cinzano sweet vermouth in the bar of Hotel Omm in Barcelona last week. We were there for Sónar festival, and went there at 9pm on a Sunday night, so the big couches were mostly deserted. I'm not sure I could bear the place's loungey soundtrack when filled with posers - but the Stan Getz-produced Brazilian music was totally fine in the company of a few rolex-encrusted senior citizens. But anyway, we were reminded how perfect it is when little dishes of really good crisps are served as a bar snack. Maybe I'm just nostalgic for the chippie sandwiches of my youth, but I would say the Spanish, with their tasty olives and potato crisps, compete with Japanese o-tsumami for world's best bar snack repertoire.

The Spanish are also no strangers to combining the salt & vinegar punch of boquerones (marinated european anchovies) with crisps either. We ate the crunchy, vinegary, fishy plate below at Inopia in Barcelona last October.

Pickled herrings, potato crisps and Italian aperitifs might not be such an unholy euro combo after all. I'm inspired to make this a regular habit: lactose or no lactose.

boquerone chips


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