Sarnie Party

A certain hillbilly has invited me to take part in what can only be described as a Sandwich Party As regular readers will no doubt be aware, I’m something of a foodie, even being willing to travel great distances to eat a certain product or visit a certain restaurant. What I do not do is prepare food myself. I have been known to prepare toast all by myself, but if a recipe contains more than two ingredients I get dizzy and have to go and have a lie down. I see no contradiction in this attitude. After all, I love music, but I can’t sing or play. I love books, but couldn’t write one.

Anyway, my enthusiasm for this web-happening overrode my lack of food preparation skills, and I decided to make for you, dear reader, a British culinary classic. I give you…The Chip Butty.

First, a word on terminology, for those of you reading from beyond the confines of our green and pleasant land. “Chips” are what Americans would call “fries” (French, Freedom, whatever). What you call “chips”, we call “crisps” (which can also, it should be pointed out, be used in sarnies). In fact, for this version of the recipe I shall be using Belgian “frites”, since, well, I live in Belgium. Also, whatever you believe about the origins of fries and the name “French Fries”, most concur that Belgians make them better than anyone else – tastier and crunchier than the traditionally fatter, greasier British chip.

Step one: the ingredients. The bread has to be white, sliced, preferably cheap and twappy. For the frites, Chez Antoine in Place Jourdan reputedly makes the best frites in Belgium, but they’d be cold by the time I got them home, so Chez Francois in Place Dumon, five minutes’ walk from our house, will suffice.


Step three: Place chips on bread. There are different schools of thought as to precise chip placement/arangement. Some favour a careless scattering, creating a lumpy, irregular sandwich. I prefer a neat ordering which ensures maximum amount of chippage per square slice, with no gaps or overlaps.


Step four: smother liberally with ketchup.


To accompany this repast I have chosen a “Jail Ale”, brewed on my home turf of Devon.


Step five: eat


A healthy (chips and ketchup – that’s two vegetables, right?) square meal.


Post-prandial analysis: British fat chips with hand-sliced crusty white bread would have resulted in a chunkier, more manly sandwich. Oh well – there’s always next year…


36 thoughts on “Sarnie Party

  1. jagosaurus December 7, 2007 / 3:43 pm

    “I prefer a neat ordering which ensure maximum amount of chippage per square slice, with no gaps or overlaps.”

    That has to be one of the best sentences I have read all year.


  2. simonlitton December 7, 2007 / 3:49 pm

    Apart from the grammatical error, which I shall now correct. Thanks.


  3. Elsa December 7, 2007 / 4:13 pm

    Oh. My. Word. I said “chip butty,” and you made a chip butty. I cannot express how that thrills me, even if there was no cause-effect relationship.

    It’s… it’s… it’s like internet magic.


  4. rasman1978 December 7, 2007 / 4:19 pm

    Hahaha! You buy bread that says “British Breakfast” on the side. Excellent.

    My favorite step was “step two”. I love that step. 😉

    “Maximum amount of chippage”. That happens to me on the golf course sometimes. Dammit.


  5. simonlitton December 7, 2007 / 4:24 pm

    Elsa: I actually decided to make a chip butty before I read through the whole of you post. Then, when I did, I was pissed off. “Now the element of surprise will be gone”, I thought. But yes, the internet is magic. Watch now as I make my chip butty magically disappear!
    Erik: Step two is a trade secret, not to be publicised on the internet, or anywhere else for that matter.


  6. rasman1978 December 7, 2007 / 4:29 pm

    Does “butty” rhyme with “fruity” or “slutty”?


  7. rasman1978 December 7, 2007 / 4:49 pm

    Knowing the British, I’d guess it sounds like “but-ay”.

    I’m just not so sure I’d eat something that sounds so much like ass. That’s “arse” to you.


  8. simonlitton December 7, 2007 / 4:59 pm

    Depending on regional accents, it comes out as either “butty” (“slutty”, if you insist) or “butt-eh”.
    Alternatively you could call it “tartine de julienne de pomme de terre, dans son jus de tomate”.


  9. rasman1978 December 7, 2007 / 5:01 pm

    Alternatively you could call it “tartine de julienne de pomme de terre, dans son jus de tomate”.

    That sounds like an item from a menu at a restaurant I can’t afford.


  10. Peter December 7, 2007 / 5:12 pm

    I’m not sure if I’m still hungry 🙂

    Virtually all Belgians will look with a certain degree of disbelief at a sandwich stuffed with fries. My s/o once owned a “Friterie” and confirmed he never (ever) had a customer requesting ‘fries wrapped in a sandwich”.

    I’m convinced culinary differences will always be around: the French have their seasonal ‘Foie gras’ (Fat Liver’, an expensive delicacy obtained by force feeding ducks), the Americans love their “supersize me” burger tradition, and Belgium, well, I guess we often manage to mix the best recipes of our neighbours and call it “Belgian”. The country tends to feel unreal, but our ‘steal from the neighbours’ kitchen sure tastes much better.

    By the way, did you really eat that healthy sandwich? 😉


  11. simonlitton December 7, 2007 / 5:22 pm

    Firstly, yes, I really ate it.
    Secondly, when I went to buy the frites, the person in front of me ordered a “mitraillette”, which is essentially a baguette containing a burger and frites – not so different from a chip butty, apart from the presence of the “meat” (the quotation marks are deliberate – I’m not convinced that the burgers they use in these places bear any relation to actual animal flesh).


  12. sgazzetti December 7, 2007 / 6:08 pm

    This is wonderful. I am always fascinated by the culinary ways of the English. To the extent that I am surprised that having the chips still be warm when incorporated into the sandwich is considered desirable.



  13. simonlitton December 7, 2007 / 6:12 pm

    Yes, because a cold chip sandwich would be so much more appetising, right?


  14. jagosaurus December 7, 2007 / 6:25 pm

    The sandwich strikes me as so very American for some reason. Or, maybe, it would only be truly American if it were batter and deep fried.

    I’m hoping to get a photo of/post about a lasagna sandwich into the sandwich party eventually. I wouldn’t dare put a slab of cold lasagna between two slices of bread but a friend of mine does on a regular basis.


  15. tinafrench December 7, 2007 / 7:00 pm

    A chips butty! Gorgeous. And you are adorable in the one photo that features you instead of the chips.


  16. sgazzetti December 7, 2007 / 8:29 pm

    Oh, and: I am pretty sure that the addition of ale makes it THREE veg.


  17. simonlitton December 7, 2007 / 9:11 pm

    Tina: Yes, I’m always at my most adorable when chomping aggressively into some fast food.
    Re: Ale – I never actually considered it to be part of the sandwich itself, so which food group it belongs to is a moot point, I feel.


  18. VegeYum December 8, 2007 / 5:15 am

    he he he… had to laugh a lot at this. In Australia we know chip butties very well, having a large proportion of british immigrants, but multi-generational australians tend to smile at them in amusement.


  19. birdandpickle December 8, 2007 / 7:28 am

    I had never heard “twappy” before this post. Of course, I only recently learned that trains no longer run on coal.


  20. Helen December 8, 2007 / 4:40 pm

    Was about to write a one word post –


    Until I scrolled down & found birdandpickle beat me to it!


  21. birdandpickle December 8, 2007 / 5:18 pm

    Helen, that makes me feel better!

    It just occurred to me that it’s too bad I’m vegetarian because I could have made a bird and pickle sandwich. Oh well.


  22. Jim December 8, 2007 / 6:35 pm

    Note on pronunciation: the double t in butty is optional, if you want the authentic sound (as spoken by the usual connaisseurs of this dish, i.e. after ten pints of lager on a Saturday night) then you should employ a glottal stop. This is difficult to explain without being able to demonstrate but basically, instead of pronouncing the “tt” in “butty” you stop all all coming out and end up with a word similar to “buh-ee”. If you manage to dribble a little and slur your words while shouting obscenities at the poor shopkeeper whose emporium you are visiting, then you will genuinely have a British chip butty experience. Can’t be beaten!!


  23. Jim December 8, 2007 / 6:37 pm

    OOPS – in the above post, for “all all” please read “all air”. Please excuse me, I have been on weekend night shifts having to deal with the drunk, butty-eating population of Southampton and am hence a little weary!


  24. simonlitton December 9, 2007 / 10:27 am

    Helen & Birdandpickle: “twappy is a Devonshire dialect term meaning soft, floppy, doughy etc. Specifically used for food, most often for food that has started to go off a bit, i.e. twappy is not often its natural or desirable state.


  25. tinafrench December 9, 2007 / 8:16 pm

    I’m going to use “twappy” in conversation from now on.

    Also, look at all these comments! You’ve arrived, my friend!


  26. simonlitton December 10, 2007 / 10:37 am

    Tina: Yes, 27 comments isn’t bad, is it? On the other hand, eight of them are from me…


  27. Claudia December 15, 2007 / 4:11 pm

    “twappy is a Devonshire dialect term meaning soft, floppy, doughy etc. Specifically used for food, most often for food that has started to go off a bit, i.e. twappy is not often its natural or desirable state. ”

    Screw bread, I’m now officially hijacking this term to call my friends. IE: Dude, don’t be such a TWAP! or Kids, go to your room for being uber twappy this morning!

    PS – Gods I miss frites……………


  28. Frustrated April 22, 2008 / 2:20 pm



  29. simonlitton April 22, 2008 / 2:23 pm

    Butter AND ketchup with chips? Are you insane?


  30. Norm July 11, 2008 / 9:31 am

    Awww Simon! You are a true British hero (with European leanings)! You made what can only be described as THE best chip butty there can be. White bread, good arrangement of chips to avoid potential escape, lashings of Tommy K and NO BUTTER! One thing I will say that some of the ingredients could be improved upon in a way only us Uk nationals could do, and that’s by having a white Sunblest Loaf and chunky McCain oven chips. Brilliant. That’s tonights dinner sorted!


  31. Laura October 30, 2009 / 9:43 pm

    Well now I’m hungry and slightly homesick. Thanks!

    I also tend to go for a neat arrangement of chips, more due to my obsessive desire to have everything at right-angles than anything else.


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