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United Kingdom (GBP £)
In Praise Of...

Hot Chips

by Georgie Meredith

I love hot chips. To me, they epitomise summer. 

There are the chunky, near-soggy ones wrapped in butcher’s paper, best eaten on the sand by the sea; the kind from a public swimming pool, overly salted and oozing with oil, served in yellow and red cardboard cups; and the type from the local RSL (which are unsuspectingly the best type) brought to you in a steaming, golden heap with a side of lush garlic aioli.

Many will agree that some of the finest hot chips you’ll come across in Sydney are from Out Of The Blue (known to the locals as OTB). The compact, teeming take-away shop on Clovelly Road is an institution, and a cult classic for beach burgers. They’re $10 and come with an enormous, paper-wrapped portion of hot chips, which are quite honestly perfect. 

Each is just the right amount of greasy, enough to make your fingertips slightly glossy. They offer a beyond ethereal crunch, yet somehow manage to softly render in your mouth. The chip-to-salt ratio is also without fault—not enough salt to knock you out at once, but more than enough to make your lips just pursed at the end of your meal. And they are served at the kind of piping hot temperature that could leave the roof of your mouth with an ulcer if eaten too speedily.

OTB chips conjure a lot of summer memories for me. Awkward, semi-sober first dates on the rocks between Clovelly beach and Gordon’s Bay; tropical, rainy days squished in the car with girlfriends, windows fogged from the rising steam of our food; and drunken Sunday afternoons spent at the bowlo, before wandering up to that beloved corner to indulge in a much needed pile of crisp, fried potatoes, while sitting outside on the curb.

It’s not just OTB chips that make me fuzzy with nostalgia. It’s literally any kind of hot chip. Because these little wedges of joy are the ultimate symbol of community. Food has long been known as a way to bring people together. Hot chips go beyond that, by creating food memories to last a lifetime (insert smiley tear emoji here). 

I asked my friends about their favourite hot chip memories. Here are just a few of the responses:

Sitting with Nana in Mylstom, a small north coast town, on a grassy hill above the Bellingen river with a huge bag of hot chips. They were the best chips because they were just big cut, well cooked and lots of salt. I loved grabbing the $5 note to go pay, getting a little ticket, and the feeling of excitement when your number got called - Ingrid

Going to OTB and taking a risk on getting the “fancy stuff” (smoked paprika) sprinkled on my chips. My order hasn’t changed for 11 years and this was the first variation - Luke

My mum and I loved the chips at Milkbar at Waitara station when I was a teenager. Every once and a while we would stage a rendezvous (with me illegally texting her from my phone near the end of school). She’d pick me up with a parcel of delicious hot chips and we’d eat 90% of them in the car before we got home. We definitely kept these trips a secret from the rest of our family - Em

My family and I always go swimming down at Broadstairs. As soon as we hop out, we run to the same little fish shop by the sea, where the chips come with lots of salt and vinegar, and mushy peas, in greasy paper. They’re so hot they almost burn your sea-salt lips. It’s not so much a memory as it is a recurring activity - Lottie

Can you think of any other dish that evokes this much passion? I certainly can’t.

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