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Review: Roll up to this Ribbleton takeaway for a chippy tea and an old fashioned pudding

Posted on - 16th March, 2024 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Food & Drink, Opinion, Preston News, Reviews, Ribbleton, Takeaways, What's On in Preston
After police forensics took the bones out of her cupboard, Old Mother Hubbard was forced to share her fish sandwich with her poor dog. Meanwhile, the search for Aunt Bessie continues

This week my daughter GZ took me to have a go in a floatation tank in Liverpool for a Mother’s Day treat and to get a takeaway later on.

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I mention the floatation tank, despite it not being in Preston, because I got to experience a feeling of complete weightlessness and a feeling of being as dense as a bag of concrete all in the space of an evening.

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The problem with being weightless for an hour is that when you stop being buoyed up by salt and serenity and climb out, your body suddenly feels like a half-ton tin of Spam in a car crusher. It’s a little alarming.

As GZ drove back from Liverpool we debated ordering some sort of salady food, but that idea went out of the window when we came across a takeaway called Mother Hubbard’s on Just Eat and GZ saw that they sold jam roly-poly.

As I was already in extreme Spam form I decided that I may as well roll with it, both literally and metaphorically, and order the original English takeaway food: fish and chips.

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I chose a fiery fish sandwich for £10.95 including chips, which was a great alternative to a classic fish and chips meal. Instead of batter, two generous pieces of fish fillet were coated in a punchy spice blend similar to tandoori seasoning, and topped with a secret sauce reminiscent of sweet chilli. It had just enough heat to satisfy lovers of hot-tasting food, though it might not be the best option for anyone who’d struggle with anything hotter than a Korma. It came on a brioche bun with a few shredded lettuce leaves and a slice of processed cheese that it didn’t need. I thought it was excellent and will be ordering it again, but next time I’ll leave off the cheese.

The chaotic beauty of a genuine chippy chip ~ Tracy Emin

The chips were a perfect example of the classic British chippy tea type. The sort that are all different shapes and sizes that are best smothered in salt and vinegar, not much crunch but there’s always a stealthy sharp one that’s decided that if it’s going down it’s taking you with it.

They ideally need to be eaten piping hot from a newspaper that’s been folded into a nosebag. Even better if it’s a frosty day, you’re sitting on the swings with your friends and you’ve mastered the art of squashing the bag just enough to prevent them from taking more than one chip at a time.

Unfortunately, the tradition of wrapping chips in newspaper was banned in the 1980s due to the danger of ingested ink, so these were served in boxes made from disposable, water resistant materials. The downside is that the trapped steam makes a soggy mess of anything hot that’s inside it for more than a couple of minutes. Fortunately, they crisped up in my air fryer well enough for us to enjoy the lightness of the thin batter, the fresh, mildly fishy flavour inside, and the salty, vinegary loveliness of the whole shebang.

Despite GZ’s meal being off the child’s menu there was easily enough for an adult, so for those minding their pennies one portion shared between two smaller appetites could be enough. She also added mushy peas to her meal for an extra £1.45, but was unimpressed as they were bland and added little apart from green.

It’s what’s inside that counts

Most people over 50 have seen one popular type of food or other disappear, for better or for worse.

The working class kids in my generation carry deep scars from the obligatory Northern 1970s childhood experience of being chased by a Nana with a plate of tripe, screaming “it’s lovely with some white pepper and vinegar on it!” We won that one, for the good of our descendants.

We’ve also seen the magnificent British pudding that is jam roly-poly fading into myth, mainly because my generation saw our mothers making it and decided that there was no way that we could ever be arsed.

It involves suet which is, for those that thrive off too much information, derived from the raw, hard fat from around the loins and kidneys of either cattle or sheep and gives both sweet and savoury pudding pastry an unmistakable crumbly yet stodgy texture. To make jam roly-poly the pastry is roughly rolled out, liberally spread with raspberry jam and rolled into a vague sausage shape. Then, just to make it sound even less appetising, it’s wrapped in a muslin shroud and steamed until every window in the house is fully coated in condensation and the woodchip wallpaper is sliding sadly off the walls.

I enjoyed my session in the floatation tank but the water was a bit yellow

Jam roll and jam roly-poly are two different things. If in doubt, imagine throwing one of them at any random healthy looking passer-by*. If they can still get up and chase you, it’s a jam roll. If they’re felled like an old redwood and lie face down, twitching, it was a jam roly-poly and you need to get out of there.

As for the taste and quality, at £6.45, Mother Hubbard’s roly-poly was okay and so was the custard, but it wasn’t like a true home-made one. I suspect that she and her mate Aunt Bessie might have skived off that particular cookery class together. Uncle Ben may also have dodged a couple of important ones, too, the slacker.

Sadly, anyone wanting a grade A jam roly-poly still needs to get one the old way, which is by hanging around an elderly relative and talking about Limahl from Kadgagoogoo until they make one just to get rid of you.

On the other hand, anyone wanting a proper good, old style, chippy tea – or even one with a spicy twist – can find them at Mother Hubbard’s on Blackpool Road in Ribbleton.

*Please don’t throw anything at anyone.

Have you tried to recover from feeling like two pounds of Spam in a half pound tin by stuffing yourself with fish, chips, suet pastry and custard? Of course you haven’t. Go ahead and brag about your dignity and self respect in the comments if you want.

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