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‘Fish n Chips’ and…Rocky Road

I grew up in a city and during a time when people didn’t really eat takeaway food.  The word ‘takeaway’ wasn’t in anyone’s vernacular, probably because takeaway outlets were rare or non-existent.  Home cooked food was all anyone knew and that was eaten every night except for that very rare occasion when you might be taken to a restaurant for a special treat and that special day probably only came about once a year.

But the exception were Fridays because Fridays were different.

Apricot and Pistachio Rocky Road

Apricot and Pistachio Rocky Road

You couldn’t eat meat on a Friday.  I don’t know why but the Catholics had plenty to do with it; something to do with Jesus being crucified on a Friday.  So as meat was off the menu, fish was served.  But for some reason, many Catholic mothers thought that if they couldn’t cook meat, they may as well not cook at all.  So on Friday nights the Catholics would head to the nearest ‘fish n chip’ shop where the queues for a meatless meal would run the length of the street.

I wasn’t brought up Catholic and my mother would say, ‘Anything cooked in oil is bad for you’, so we were never part of those Friday night queues.  But that’s not to say I grew up without greasy, fried foods, because my parents used to travel a lot and while away I would be farmed out to stay at my friend’s house were things were different.

My friend’s family wasn’t Catholic either but they still had a weekly tradition of buying fish and chips only they went on Thursday nights so they didn’t have to queue with all the Catholics.

Perfect after-dinner treat

Perfect after-dinner treat

I used to love Thursday night’s at Judith’s house.  Her father would drive home from work and as soon as we heard the car coming up the drive we’d run out and he’d drive us to the ‘fish n chip’ shop so we could order all the food that was bad for us.  On the way there we would tell her father what we wanted and he would try to memorise all the orders.  Fish and chips was the most requested but I would ask for chips with three potato scallops and a ‘battered sav’.  (Can’t believe I used to like ‘battered savs’!)  We would stand at the counter watching the process of every item on the menu taking it’s turn in the oil bath before being tossed in copious salt and if you were a chip, showered in vinegar.  Every order was wrapped individually in newspaper with a tiny hole torn in the corner to release the steam.

We’d get back into the car with our newspaper packages resting on our knees and the heat searing through the paper would be enough to give you a burn.

It's very hard to stop at just one!

It’s very hard to stop at just one!

Back at Judith’s house, ‘fish n chip’ night was also casual dining night so instead of sitting up at the dining room table we could eat on the sofas in the family room.  We’d all sit there with our opened parcels on our burning legs, passing around the sauce container that was a red plastic tomato with a green top that squirted sauce.  (I used to wish we had one of those plastic tomato sauce containers at our house!)  And we’d munch on our chips and watch TV while the room became overpowered by the smell of warmed, moist newsprint and vinegar.

After the fish n chips there was no dessert.  Desserts weren’t on offer at Judith’s house.  (Her mother was certainly no cook).  That was the one downside of being at Judith’s house but I have to say, the joy and rare treat of greasy food pretty much made up for it.

Back at my house desserts were always on offer and considered as important as the main ‘non-greasy’ course.  A bit of chocolate was always welcome and on Boxing Day my cousin, Pippa made this amazing Rocky Road that was gobbled up with not a crumb to spare.  I had some requests to share the recipe so thought that this would be the perfect occasion (if you can overlook the fact it’s hardly related) to share with you.

Quick and easy after-dinner snack

Quick and easy after-dinner snack

Apricot and Pistachio Rocky Road

Makes:  24

Degree of Difficulty:  1/5

Cost:  I used good quality chocolate and with the nuts, this is not inexpensive but definitely worth it!

  • 400g dark cooking chocolate
  • 390gm can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 2 tspns vanilla extract
  • 150g chopped dried apricots
  • 200g pistachio nuts (I had only 100gm so added 100gm slivered almonds, toasted)

Place chocolate and sweetened condensed milk into a heatproof bowl and place in microwave for 4 mins on high (or less if you have a powerful beast).  Stir in icing sugar and vanilla extract.  Blend in remaining ingredients.

Pour into a 20cm (8 inch) square tin lined with baking paper.  Place in the fridge to harden then cut into squares and try to stop at one.

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  1. Ok first, tell me what Battered Sav is? 🙂 For me, growing up meant lunch, dinner, and breakfast mostly at home. Once in awhile we went out, but I can’t remember us going out very much. My father is a hunter, so we lived on venison. We went fishing a lot when I was younger, so fried fish for me was always freshly made….YUM! I love your posts, they always bring back memories:-) Hugs, Terra

    • Hi Terra, I think a battered sav is what you would call a corn dog only it’s not covered in a cakey type of coating, it’s covered in the same batter they put on the chips. The saveloy sausage is one of those highly processed things covered in bilious red skin.

  2. Oh and that fudge, YUM! I love your addition of the apricots:-) oxox

  3. may I eat one of them 🙂

  4. I love this memory of yours. I can totally see the whole evening unfolding. And seeing how it is Friday, I now want fried fish. And I’m not Catholic either!

  5. Love the vivid childhood memories you share with us! Sounds like that was quite a treat for you. I’ve only had authentic fish and chips once, when I was in England…and it was pretty damn tasty. This Rocky Road looks so good too!

  6. Always delightful to take a trip down memory lane. Your Apricot and Pistachio Rocky Road sounds wonderful

  7. We didn’t go out much at all because my Dad always said that my Mom’s cooking was so much better, why would we want to go out? But on rare occasions we would get Swiss Chalet which specialized in rotisserie chicken with a special sauce and fries. On those occasions we always brought the food home to eat and we’d sit in the dining room playing a game of trying to guess the price of “dinner for four” from our local Chinese food take away place (they always dropped flyers in our door)! On those nights my Mom always had good quality chocolate to eat for dessert. Such a fond memory, thanks for linking me back Charlie.
    This rocky road looks incredible. I’ll have to make a note to make them at Christmas next year.

  8. WTH is a battered sav? I am from the US and don’t know the vernacular. 🙂 This fudge looks and sounds tasty. I love the thought of putting apricots in it. I had some this last Christmas it was a white fudge with cranberries and apricots…it was yummy!! I am not Catholic but had a friend growing up who was so I know all about meatless Fridays and all that…Love the local fish fries, too!! 🙂

    • Hi Jo, a ‘battered sav’ is a saveloy sausage dipped in batter and then fried. I think you might call them ‘corn dogs’ in the US only not that cakey covering, a batter covering instead. I haven’t had one since my teens. Thank goodness my palette has improved!

  9. When my dad was out of town, my mother would sometimes take us out for Kelly Burgers, which were just ordinary hamburgers, but quite a treat for us as, like you, we mostly ate at home.

    Love the look of the rocky road. I think almonds make a nice addition.

  10. I remember the weekly fish and chips but ours was on Saturday after shopping in the market. Rock and chips all round. Rock Salmon that is which I don’t think had anything to do with salmon at all. There’s something about the bright red skin of a saveloy that’s never really appealed. but that whiff of vinegar which we weren’t allowed! It just makes the meal even more delicious. I’m off to queue, it’s Friday after all. GG

  11. OH, my gosh, this looks amazing. And, as always, I LOVE your stories of your youth! So great…

  12. Delightful story…delightful recipe. I so love Fish and Chips, but don’t like to make it because of the mess. But I might just have queued with the Catholics for a nice batch of them. 😉

  13. Friday in our house was also ‘meatless’, though not always from bought fish and chips, and we were not a Catholic household. Also not eating meat on Good Friday was strictly upheld.

    As you say, eating out was not something which was done very often but a special treat would be to eat out at a Cahill’s Restaurant, a dining institution in Sydney some years ago. A speciality of these restaurants was their Caramel Sauce served with cake and icecream, yum.

    And to have a Chinese takeaway years ago meant taking your own container to the shop for the food.

  14. that rocky road looks sinful! i wouldn’t care if it was the most expensive thing out there coz i would still want to make it and eat it…lol 😛

  15. What a great story (as always). I can see how exciting it was to eat fish n chips at their house – something different from normal routine! You totally made me want to eat fish n chips and I am going to take my family to eat fish n chips this weekend…a bit far but worth a drive! The rocky road looks so good! That’s a perfect Friday night meal. 🙂

  16. I remember those occasional fish and chip nights, and how exciting they were. My mother too liked healthy food, but sometimes when bringing up 5 kids got too much for her, she’d send us off to get fish and chips, preferably not on a Friday night. I remember those tomato lookalike sauce containers too, not that they were ever allowed in our house. You bring back those memories so strongly – the steaming packages and newspaper-wrapped parcels.

  17. Coming from a childhood where going out for meals was also not done I enjoyed the story of your fish and chip outings vicariously. 🙂 Now the Rocky Road fudge … I want it for real. The last time I had a piece was at the local Corn Festival. There were rides including a ferris wheel, fresh cooked corn on the cob, cotton candy and freshly made lemon/lime ‘ades, caramel corn AND the fudge vendor. It had cherries as well as the marshmallow and nuts.

    You always get the best fish and chips at restaurants, I think. 🙂

  18. We rarely ever ate out when I was young either. We would go to Chinese once a year for combined mybirthdaybrothersbirthdayandmothersday which usually fell in the same week, but that was it. Even a bbq chook was a rare treat! Chips did features from time to time, always doused in vinegar and a bit soggy from the trip home . They were sooo very good indeed 🙂
    Love the Rocky Road, one of my dads favourite treats. I’ll have to make him some soon xox

  19. So many of your memories are the same as mine. Your whole description of getting the fish and chips brought back wonderful memories since I haven’t eaten it in decades. We also always had pudding after the main course, but we lived on a farm and the calories were needed.

  20. What tasty sweet treats!

  21. I would have loved a visit to Judith’s house! My parents never went away without us but one night, they went out (I’m not sure where) and left us with her friend who gave us a box of fried chicken and a television. We were in heaven!

  22. Perhaps it’s part of being from Canberra, the only non-coastal capital in Aus, but fish and chips are only only only associated with holidays for me. I don’t think we ever really had it as takeaway! Takeaway was delicious Indian or nearby Chinese… and even at the coast, my favourite treat was the “potato scallop”. 🙂 Ramble ramble!

  23. The candy looks wonderful(ly rich! Don’t do this to me!)
    Meatless Fridays …something penitential to do for a weekly atonement, to go without meat.The option now,(except during Lent) is to “take on” something charitable instead….the problem with ‘meatless=penance ‘ is that many seafood fares are better than many meaty meals.A Catholic friend of mine was married to a Presbyterian. It was a ‘meatless’ Friday but he wanted a steak.While she was int he lady’s room, he ordered a lobster for her…see the problem? She was better of going for a burger.

  24. I can smell the fish and chip paper as I type Charlie how delicious. Now I’m craving it! I think I’d probably take your house with its dessert any day though. Gotto have dessert!

  25. Oh, Charlie, you have made me laugh! Think of a ‘bloody Balt’ of the late 1950s fitting into this scene [huh! you were not even born yet!!!] And one had to to surive!!!! On the other hand, it made me think of fish [whatever bl . . .y day!]. On the other hand I hoot and say ‘what on earth are you talkin’ about 😀 !. Oh, I eat an awful amount of fish! 😀 !

  26. We were Catholics, so fish and chips were a regular Friday night meal. We never got to eat them in front of the television though!

  27. I want some fish and chips now! 😉

  28. How I chuckled at the thought of the Catholic families all lining up at the fish & chip shops on Fridays…not being Catholic or having regular take away in my childhood either, I never noticed that here but fish & chips was one of our two occasional take away treats (the other being Chinese). It was always a wonderful experience.

    This rocky road looks sophisticated and delicious, too!

  29. Would you post some for me in Spain ? pleasee…….looks divine!

  30. What’s battered savs I don’t think I’ve ever heard of them hehe ~ I know what you mean about not given much fried food growing up! My parents were rarely strict on it too until I was about 10 then it was all fine and they would happily buy me Mac Donalds so I wouldn’t annoy them anymore 😛

    Ohhh Rocky Road with apricot and pistachio sounds amazing! Very different from marshmallow and almond or hazelnuts! Can’t wait to try 😀 xox

  31. That’s absolutely my memory of take away night, although ours was on Sunday. We got ake away every Sunday, but apart from that my mum cooked everything, in fact I don’t even remember packaged biscuits in our house! Thanks for the flashback.

  32. Lucky for us, these memories of yours must be really vivid, for you’ve painted quite a picture, from the scent of the paper to sensation of burning on your lap. What a great read! Even though Catholic, we very rarely went out for fish on Fridays, unless it was a parish dinner in support of some parish charity. As much as I like fried foods, I think we got the better meal staying home. Dessert wasn’t a normal part of our meals, either. We sure did enjoy it when it was offered, though. Something like your Apricot and Pistachio Rocky Road would not have seen a second meal. We would have cleared the platter within minutes. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why Mom so rarely gave us dessert. 🙂

  33. The only time I heard ‘take-away’ when I was growing up was when I was misbehaving and my mother was talking about my toys. I think I was sixteen before I ever ate in a restaurant. Isn’t it funny how so many good and vivid memories are associated with food? (I, too, am a huge dessert fan and these look absolutely fantastic.)

  34. Thinking back on it…we’d have a huge queue at our local chippy too and I always thought it was because of their fish n chips…who knew it was the Catholics! And I even went to a convent!

    Love your story. We never ate out much when I was young. In London, there were plenty of takeaways to be had but my parents preferred home food. My children definitely eat out a lot more than I ever did. My mum wasn’t a baker so nothing like these gorgeous Rocky Road was ever on our menu. Plenty of chocolate bars though and sweets galore!


  35. Oh I could almost smell the fried fish as you described it. What a great memory:) That dessert looks yummy. Apricot is a surprise:)

  36. That’s actually really interesting with the whole fish n chips issue. Never actually paid much attention to it before! haha.. Things are quite different here in Asia. Most people do takeouts because it’s so affordable and easy! I gotta say, I’m cooking and baking a lot less now that I’m back here. Spoiled by so many food choices and its affordability! 🙁

  37. These Apricot and Pistachio sweets look mouthwatering, mmmh.!
    And beautifully photographed too .
    We never had fish’n chip on Fridays, but fish it was anyhow 🙂

  38. I am drooling just looking at these rocky road photos!! It’s crazy how many takeout places there are in San Francisco. I personally enjoy cooking at home. For my husband and I, going out to eat is quite an occasion! haha.

  39. Good ol fish and chip Friday. I grew up with it, when we were not at the pub restaurant for dinner. Love the addition of pistachios in the rocky road, looks really good.

  40. i love the look of this Rocky Road, Charlie! I will definitely make this soon…maybe tomorrow before I go to a SuperBowl party. I love the story of your friend Judith and the fish and chips. I am sure you already know that in the U.S. we say “take out” foods. I like “take away” better. Clever people doing their fish and chips on Thursday to avoid the crowds. Isn’t it funny the number of interesting things we observed from spending time with our friends’ families when we were young?

  41. Gosh, I’m salivating! The name is enough to kill me. Hahaha! Have a good week ahead! xoxo

  42. After trying many Christmas versions of rocky road, I like the sound of yours best – apricots with pistachios sounds amazing, the recipe sounds do-able after a busy week.
    Enjoying your recipes & stories. Donna xo

  43. Great story! Fish ‘n Chips is truly a wonderful meal. Not particularly healthy, of course, but so tasty. Thanks for your explanation of “Battered Sav” in the comments (above) – I didn’t know what that was either, but now I do. Sounds quite nice, actually. Oh, and the Rocky Road looks terrific. No way could I stop at one. My wife has been playing with recipes like this in the microwave lately – so tasty and so easy. Good stuff – thanks.

  44. I LOVE the flavor of rocky road…I just wrapped up a video for fudge. You know what they say about great minds =)

  45. I really like the idea of having apricot in rocky road, because (provided you use the deeply-coloured Australian apricots and not those awful, insipid Turkish ones) the apricot would cut through the sweetness.

    I remember good ol’ fish n chip lap burn! For many years mum would try her best to be the perfect housewife and cook us fish on Fridays (usually smoked cod in cheese sauce), but when she and dad’s marriage started to dissolve, so did family dinners and smoked cod and in came the fish and chips, eaten on a big beach towel on the lounge room floor while we watched TV. Unfortunately I had a really bad, raw-on-the-inside batch of fish and chips last Easter and haven’t been able to face them since 🙁

  46. Haha! We aren’t a religious family but we did lazy fish and chips nights 🙂 Or burgers and chips from the local take away. I remember the chips burning on my lap in the car and trying to have a few ‘sneaky chips’ on the way, as Mum called them x

  47. It always make me laugh the number of people I know who haven’t been to church in decades yet still religiously (pun intended!) eat fish on Fridays! I don’t think I had fish & chips until I moved to Australia – it wasn’t seen very often in suburban America-land – but Chinese was our treat on the very rare nights when mom didn’t cook!

  48. Love rocky road! Pistachio and apricot sounds like a really good combo!

  49. Loved the memories. Sounds like you had some great times with friends. I remember staying with mine a few times while my parents were away. It was always such a treat. 🙂

  50. Recently, I have seen many rocky road recipes & yours looks insanely delicious!

  51. I have lots of childhood memories at fish n chip shops too.. All part of being Aussie I guess? haha. this slice looks diviiine – so chocolatey! it reminds me a bit of fudge almost!

  52. Growing up we never got “take-a-way” (we called it take out), but on Wednesday night we went to a local Mexican restaurant because kids could eat for 99 cents (all you could eat). Adults paid $1.50. For a family of 7, that was a big deal. My mama fried catfish and french fries all of the time, so we had fish n chips A LOT and man were they good! However, we never had these Rocky Road treats! These look great! Another enjoyable post!

  53. Is this the same friend, or did all your friends have thursday night traditions? I remember your recent story about your friend’s father bringing home candy on Thursday nights that you could choose from… And what are battered savs?? Need to look that up now…

    • No, it’s a different friend. These two friends have never met. One was from my primary school years in New Zealand and the other from my high school years in Australia.

  54. One would think we in general had a lot harder childhood…but in fact we didn’t. We had simple pleasures. But restaurant eating was definitely once in a year affair. Fish and chips as a dish we discovered in US, and now we love them on our sojourns to the beach. The rocky road looks delicious.

  55. Charlie, chocolate relates to most everything, especially a great food story, so your Rocky Road segue made complete sense to me. 🙂 Back in the day, I grew up with the term “to go,” reminiscent of the drive-ins my folks took us to (infrequently.) My hubby still laughs to this day when I place an order at a drive-thru (also infrequently — not a huge fan of “takeaway”), where I inevitably ask, ” Could I get that to go?” (Isn’t that what drive-thru’s are for?) Anyway, thanks for a highly entertaining post!

  56. Love your take on rocky road!

  57. I went to a Catholic primary school but had no idea that this ‘no meat on Friday’ rule existed until I started working at my local fish and chip shop towards the end of year 12.

    Needless to say, I got a bit over fish and chips after some time (despite being really into it as a kid because it was a rare treat at my house). After reading this post, Charlie, I have to say that I wouldn’t mind some potato cakes (Victoria, represent!) and a piece of battered whiting!

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