Joe runs a restaurant in the market square which to an untrained or unbespectacled eye could resemble a mechanics garage. Joe however is the Heston Blumenthal of Wuzhishen and talks with great passion about food and that were it not for his culinary training he would be on the street. Jo has become a great friend to us and regularly cooks up for us an impressive array of dishes with beer for a tenner or less.

He is fascinated to hear of the tales of Chinese takeaways in the UK like Jay’s parents run. It’s the established route of employment for 1st generation émigrés, maybe less so these days, but traditionally if you were a brain surgeon all you could do was get the wok on as soon as you arrived in Britain. Imagine how depressing it would be to move the other side of the world with six phds and be serving chips to tanked up scally being sick on your floor. My wife’s parents ran a restaurant when they first came to the UK from Shanghai via Hong Kong (the first in Manchester as it happens) and we hear that the chef from the Orange House Hotel has gone to the UK too to set up a restaurant business.

Maria too has done bird in a Glasgow chippy, and so we offer to make fish and chips at Joes on Friday lunchtime. Maria makes the batter and I peel the spuds from the market and Joe supplies some minnows from the river, in the absence of any cod. The chips are double fried and it takes a while to get the right oil temp for in the wok for the fish, but the crispy battered cartoon-of-a-fish-shaped mini-fish look pretty special. The restaurant next door comes out with a bottle of tomato ketchup.

Quite a crowd is gathered and we share the fish and chips around the market. A little too little salt they say but otherwise not bad. It seems the main problem with our efforts to appease the taste buds of the village is that flour + fry = bad chi, makes the blood to hot as they say. In the absence of an oven we may struggle to really make our mark. My wife’s family go crazy for Yorkshire puddings, making literally hundreds of them with their Christmas dinner. So the hunt for an oven continues.

After Marias gallant efforts Joe pulls out a bowl of his recipe chips he’s bend working on earlier, infact marinading in fruit scented stock since ten that morning. Dusted in a secret flour receipe he pan fries them up to produce what may come to be known as the Wuzhishen Aramotic Chip TM. By 3pm we are surrounded by banana fritters and sweet fried nam fan and it has turned into a full blown fry off. Joe wins hands down.

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