WILL ‘FRYING NEMO‘ DELIGHT ACHOLA’S TASTE BUDS? READ ON TO FIND OUT …
(Posted 05th February 2021 by Achola Rosario, Contributing Editor at www.ATCNews.org)
Authenticity is the act of someone trying to be like someone else, the sincerest form of flattery. Sometimes re-inventing the wheel does not mean throwing out old recipes, especially those tried and tested like the perfect Fish n Chips, but rather piquing your interest in them once again. Fish fried in batter and salty chips soaked in brown vinegar have been the backbone of British corner-shop street-food since circa 1863. Add to the vaguely bland but highly satisfying meal the flavor of oil-soaked newspaper and a pickled gherkin and Bob’s your uncle, you have a feast fit for the Gods.
So, it’s no surprise that the now National Dish of the former Empire is now being faithfully reproduced by a little take-away with a fantastically sarcastic name: FRYING NEMO.
The jury is out on whether the name will traumatize young children into not eating fish ever again, but you must admit it is a stroke of pure genius. Even if you are more chips n chicken (sometimes liver!) than fish n chips, you might be lured with the bright blue and yellow flyer flashing around your social media, suggesting you should fry and eat the little blighter from the cartoon. At the very least, you would want to know what it tastes like, and I did too; and so I went there.
I arrived at Lavington’s Valley Arcade Mini-mall on a Wednesday afternoon famished and stressed. It was hot, the cab was over-priced and I was tired of ugali. I needed something foreign. Alice, Frying Nemo’s proprietor, was in the house and kindly installed me at the only table and chair in shop, explaining that they had previously been a take-away operation working from another location and have just upgraded to this venue. Here they hope to continue the delivery business, but also have more of a customer interface for the local clientele of Lavington and the surrounding environs, which are considered one of Nairobi’s hipper suburbs. The volume from the bar opposite was pulsating and there was quite a decent crowd for a midweek afternoon, meaning the location had the potential of many clients with a decent disposable income.
I watched her chef prepare tartar sauce from scratch, dicing the onions and pickled gherkins to tiny pieces and adding a dash of vinegar to soak out the bitterness of the onions and then slathering the lot with original Hellman’s mayonnaise. I knew then I was in for a treat. The fish was gently battered and laid into the hot oil, which was a little brown from use, but did not smell old. When the plate came, I was happy to find two pieces of fish, a good portion of nice fries that was not too crispy or too soft, onion rings, the tartar sauce and extra pickles. My heart was complete.
While I ate, I had Gary Glitter in my head, urging me to “Come on Come on” and be in his gang. I have always had an affection for that song, mainly because I have always been a loner and so appreciate the call to belong to something, ostensibly a group of individuals who are cool. Having lived in England for 12 years and been somewhat of a football yob (Arsenal), I have truly missed fish n chips after a night of football mayhem down at the local. And so finding it so faithfully recreated here, but slightly more suburban being that it is not served in old newspaper and comes with tartar sauce not out of a jar or packet, I feel part of the exclusive club of “Summers”, kids who studied in England and came back on holiday with English tastes and habits.
But who cares so long as the food is good, it is does not make my wallet cry and arrives at my doorstep before I start contemplating eating my neighbor out of sheer hunger. Which FRYING NEMO checks all of the above on the list. And those who object to the name need to get a sense of humor. Innit?
A portion of fish n chips costs KShs 400 ($4). Orders can be placed on Facebook or on food delivery apps such as Jumia Food and Glovo.
Contact phone number: +254 725 51 16 68
To watch Episode 57 of The F.O.M.O. TRAVEL SHOW: