We fried up our own fish and chips last night. (Note to every reader outside the UK: everybody in Britain does this every night without fail in case the Queen pops round, which she often does.)
It took a lot longer than it does when someone else is doing. Especially if that someone else is a man in a chippy who has your fish and your chips all ready for you and wraps it up in the culture section of the Sun. Yes, that is the world I live in.
So while it was all, you know, frying, and I was wondering how you tell whether a chip is ready without eating it (which it turns out is a good method unless you want there to be chips keft for anybody else), it struck me that a perfectionist might do things differently. A perfectionist like Heston Blumenthal.
So, Mr Blumenthal, I mused (aloud, obviously), when you're not polishing your three Michelin stars, going 'in search of perfection' for the BBC, or fluffing the underbelly of your Fat Duck, how maketh thee thine chips? And I had just the answer, because, quite by chance, some friends with great foresight had given me Mr Blumenthal's book for Christmas.
So I cut up a whole new potato. And instead of just deep-frying it, I simmered it, drained it, dried it, left it to cool, refridgerated it for half an hour, plunged it into the boiling oil for a minute or two, drained it again, dried it again, cooled it and refridgerated it again (re-refridgerated?), plunged it back into more boiling oil, then finally drained it and seasoned it.
Some time not long past midnight I was ready to eat my Heston-chips.
And, you know what - they did actually taste better than my other chips. They weren't perfect, but that's probably because I was using the wrong type of potato and the wrong type of oil. Oh, and I don't have any way of measuring the temperature of my oil and I couldn't be bothered to refridgerate the chips for half an hour each time so I just left them 'for a while', and I didn't deep-fry them for as long as Heston said I should because, well, it was just so darn late and everybody else had gone to bed.
Also I have no atomiser, no pickling juice, no Guatemalean salt, no potato siphon, no quartzised hydraulic coolant and only the wrong type of yeast, which I found too late anyway.
But it was a good chip. So, Mr B, if you're still in search of perfection, come round to my place. And bring Paul McCartney cos he left his sweater here last time.