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A chip on his shoulder?

At a time when take-away food outlets are popping up and closing down in High Streets across the country, it’s good to hear of a shop and a supplier that have had a successful partnership for 40 years.

E T and H Crowson has supplied potatoes to Barrow Upon Soar Fish Bar for four decades and it’s a combination that looks set to continue, ensuring piping hot chips with our fish for years to come. Based in Leicester, Crowson potatoes was started by Thomas Crowson 60 years ago and is now run by grandsons Steve and David Crowson and nephew Paul.

I caught up with Steve on a Friday morning as he delivered bags of potatoes to the chippy. It’s a job he has done personally for 40 years and makes multiple trips from the lorry to the store, carrying two bags at a time on his right shoulder.

Crowson Potatoes distributes 3000 bags of potatoes every week to outlets within a 40-mile radius of Leicester – that’s 75,000 kg of potatoes.

Agria potatoes from Lincolnshire are used for chips as they produce a superior product when cooked, said Steve. They have replaced the well-known Maris Piper variety, which were supplied for many years.

Once in the shop, the potatoes are peeled and sliced by machine, ready for cooking when the shop opens. On the menu are fish, pies, chicken portions, burgers, kebabs and more, all with a generous portion of piping hot chips.

So how did the humble spud land up fried and doused with salt, vinegar and ketchup? According to Wikipedia, the first chips fried in the UK were sold by ‘Granny’ Duce in a West Riding town in 1854. A blue plaque in Oldham marks the origin of the fish and chip shop, and thus the start of the fast food industry in Britain. Chips, also known as French fries, are thought to have originated in Belgium but there is an ongoing dispute between French and Belgians, with both countries claiming ownership.

Fish and chips are less than 10% fat if properly cooked and an average sized portion is between 800 and 1000 calories. The recommended daily calorie intake is 2500 for men and 2000 for women.

The dish used to be the nation’s number one choice of a takeaway meal but it has been knocked off the top spot by other options. A survey by Paymentsense card payment service found the top four were Chinese meals, Indian meals, pizzas and fish and chips. It also found that men order takeaways more often than women do ... but women spend more on them than men do. Some 21% of Brits order a takeaway once a week and an average of £9.75 is spent on a takeaway.

With takeaways on so many families’ menus, it’s just as well Steve has broad shoulders!


If you’d rather cook your potatoes at home, you need to pick the right potato for your dish.

* For roast potatoes, try fluffy potatoes like King Edward or Maris Piper, which have a fluffy middle when cooked. They are good for jackets or chunky chips.

* Salad potatoes, like Charlotte or Maris Peer, taste great simply prepared in their skins. They are firm to the bite and are good for a quick, easy and healthy dish. Boil, steam or roast whole in their skins.

* Smooth potatoes hold their shape when boiled or cooked in a sauce such as dauphinoise or a hot pot. Try them boiled or as wedges. A typical smooth variety would be Desiree.

* When buying potatoes, choose those with tight skins, avoiding any that are soft, sprouting or have green patches.

* Sweet potatoes have a yellowish or pinkish skin and the flesh may be white or orange. They have a sweeter flavour, and are delicious when roasted.

For info about potatoes, and recipes, see www.lovepotatoes.co.uk