Serious Sandwiches: The Chip Butty


Photograph from Gaetan Lee on Flickr

We have all heard (and possibly made) jokes about how bad English food is, especially when compared to its European neighbors, and yet last week, while in the West Midlands of England, I made a discovery that calls all of that into question. Meet the chip butty.

I'm a huge fan of french fries in a sandwich. Israelis stuff their falafels with them, and Primanti Brothers in Pittsburgh puts fries on every sandwich on the menu (unless you ask them not to). But, a sandwich of just french fries? That takes it to a completely different level.

For a lot of carb-counting Americans, a chip butty may be tough to comprehend, but it is a pretty simple creation. Take two slices of bread (usually white), smear them with butter (don't be shy), and stuff with french fries—or "chips," as they're known in the U.K. Salt, vinegar, ketchup, cheese, and curry are optional and acceptable additions, but for the purists, it's just bread, butter, and chips.

Although you can find them everywhere in the U.K. now, the chip butty was said to have originated in Liverpool and is much more common in the central and northern parts of the U.K. For reasons that aren't hard to imagine, it's a bit of a pub staple. And though it's not often found on the menu of traditional old-school fish and chip shops, don't let that stop you. Ask for two slices of bread and some butter and make it yourself. And while you do it, hum the Sheffield United "Greasy Chip Butty Song" for inspiration.

To the tune of "Annie's Song," by John Denver:

You fill up my senses Like a gallon of Magnet Like a packet of Woodbines Like a good pinch of snuff Like a night out in Sheffield Like a greasy chip butty Like Sheffield United Come fill me again.... Na Na Na Naa Naa Naaaaa, ooo!

Related: In Defence of British Food