Salt n sauce n Edinburgh

Wed, Oct 13, 2010

Featured, Food

I used to live in Glasgow. Going to the chip shop was always navigating an etiquette nightmare. No matter how hard I tried to keep it quiet I would be singled out, given a condescending gaze by the chip-shoveller and denounced as “wan eh them”, complete with finger pointing, rolling eyes and more tuts than the gig joint up the street.

After being rumbled as an Edinburgher there was little I could do but accept the torrents of (usually excellent) Glasgae patter about my hometown. However, it was never the rounded Edinburgh accent that gave the game away. It was never the fact my socks weren’t rolled over my trousers. It wasn’t even the lack of manicured talons or my snobbishly superior east coast attitude that did the trick.

It was asking for salt and sauce.

Salt and sauce would cover an Edinburgh Fish Supper!

No salt & sauce? This fish supper could be from anywhere…

For the rest of the UK (Glasgow included) the standard drowning agents for chippy dinners are that of salt and vinegar, but for some reason Edinburgh has taken a saucier route for its condiments. This quirk is east coast Scotland through and through and the city even has its own kind of sauce to set it apart from almost everywhere else – chippy sauce.

The exact measured ingredients of chippy sauce tend to be closely guarded secrets by each independent chip shop in Edinburgh. To those purist vinegar swiggers in the rest of the UK unaware of sauce’s superiority, the recipe is something like half vinegar, half brown sauce, although the quality can vary considerably with consistency and taste. Some establishments even use water in order to create the perfect viscosity for aiming, squeezing and drowning. It’s a serious business, this chippy sauce stuff.

There have been unsubstantiated rumours that chippy sauce can eradicate veruccas, be used to train elephants and open portals to other dimensions due to its greatness. However, in order to test these stories’ metal a savvy experimenter would need to nip down to their local chip shop to purchase a screw top Irn Bru glass bottle full of the good stuff.

Still, despite its greatness, the phrase “salt n sauce” tends to come up for a bit of a battering (geddit?) from non-Edinburgh residents. Sauce culture is distinctly niche and in the grander condiment game will likely play second fiddle to vinegar based purely on population (most of the rest of Scotland and the wider UK bats for vinegar). There will always be a division of tastes, but for the born and bred local there’s no other choice – sotsauce wins every time.

This post was written by:

- who has written 3 posts on EdinburghSeasons.

A born and bred Edinburgh resident for 26 years and counting, complete with encyclopedic knowledge of bus routes and chippies. I write, tweet and blog.

2 Responses to “Salt n sauce n Edinburgh”

  1. Brendan MacNeill Says:

    So I suppose you can explain what a ‘doubler’ is?


  2. llinos Says:

    i tried this amazing salt n sauce combination with my cheesy chips on the weekend down in edinburgh (i currently live in aberdeen) and although we are also east-coasters up here, i had never heard of this ‘special sauce’ until i got down to the capital. it was a really tasty alternative to gravy, and suited a massive vinegar fan such as me down to a T. or should that say a V. anyway, we tried it at central chippy, which is my new favourite place as it also served bottled continental beers to wash down one’s chips n sauce with. friendly staff plus it had some indoor seating. i will definitely be returning there. cheers!


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