The Scottish, of course, would batter anything. Being a Hibee, Edinburgh is a city I’m most fond of- from the Royal Mile to the more hidden beauties of what I consider one of the most charismatic, and indeed beautiful, European cities.
It was on the Royal Mile, a good four or even five years ago, I first encountered the ‘Battered Mars Bar’. I recall seeing a sign outside the chipper advertising them, and the Dad figuring there was no harm in the challenge dragging us all inside for an attempt. What I found bemusing however, was that a good 70% of the people scoffing the deep-fried treats into themselves inside the chipper were not tourists like ourselves, (Or the eh…3 Americans outside taking photographs of themselves with the things) but locals.
So, I come back to Dublin, a 16 year old youth who has just had his mind blown by this delicious battered delicacy. Shuffling into school, I had to ask really. The reaction was expected. Think of the Father Ted Sheep moment, and you have it in one. “Fucking hell”.
It wasn’t long before calls of “SACRILEGE!” came flooding in too. “We love chipper food, and we love Mars Bars, but JESUS- you can’t put the two together”
When I turned 18, I became a bit of a regular in the Hop House on Parnell Street, where rumours of the deep fried treat would circulate quite regularly. Most of the chippers named either a) didn’t exist anymore or b) gave you a look and said “Don’t sell them any more. Weren’t really popular son”
Well, I can cofirm that’s a lie. Last Thursday I made a return trip to the Dublin chipper that offers the Mars Bar battered in all her cholesterol packed beauty, and God it was just as good as that first bite in Edinburgh. I dragged two good friends, Piaras (not a Dubliner but we’ll overlook that here) and Simon along. Simon had previously had one in Kerry, so he’d experienced the ‘Battered Mars Bar’ before.
The chipper? None other than the classic Fusciardis, which is sitting on Capel Street since 1937 (but the Mars Bars aren’t quite so old…)
Now, this place is one of the cities best chippers, never mind one of the oldest. With three lads standing outside, it’s a challenge over who is the lucky man that goes in and asks. What if they don’t do them? Who wants to walk into a Dublin chipper, at 6PM midweek, and ask for battered chocolate bars if they don’t have them? In goes Simon anyway, with me and Piaras following behind. We might as well have ordered three bags of chips, as not a eyelid is batted.
One of the lads spots the box of Mars Bars in the fridge.
“do yous sell many of them?”
“ah on a good week, you could go through 2 or 3 boxes”
Boxes. Of Mars Bars. Boxes literally FULL of Mars Bars. Tourists, he tells us, used to stand outside the place and like my American friends on the Royal Mile, take snaps of themselves with the things. They’re being made before our eyes like they were burgers, sausages, or something else you might buy in a Supermarket. Brilliant.
€1.50 goes from my hands to the cash-till, and we decide to try them out in chipper, as its bloody bitter out to say the least. The first bite.
“The one I got in Kerry was a fucking con job” says Simon,but by this stage I’ve munched mine away. Piaras is going a bit slower, but looks like a man on death row tucking into his last meal. This is brilliant, beautiful, tasty, and like all the best things in life….it feels so, so wrong.
“How do you describe the taste?” some ask. I asked the two lads with me this. It is impossible to answer. Look around online, and you’ll find this. It is actually unlike anything you’ve probably tasted to date. When done right (the batter can make rubbish of these if you do it wrong), it is beyond words. The slight crunch of the batter, the melted caramel, it all comes together nicely. “The bloody Scots” you’re thinking, “Aren’t they great?”
I’ve asked in my local chippers (Palmerstown has two good quality chippers, and nearby Ballyfermot even more) but got nothing beyond a puzzled look to date. On leaving the chipper, I bump into a friend on her bike who is appaled at the very idea. This reaction is very common. God but, if only I could drag everyone into Fusciardis, it wouldn’t be a look of horror on their faces at all. They just haven’t lived yet, and it’s not their fault I tell myself….
One of the great tragedies of Dublin life, is that this chipper closes quite early by comparison with some others in the city. Not alone are the chips among the best you’ll find, but God- imagine stumbling here at 3:30AM, and ordering one of these?
I’m sure they’re “not good for you”, but neither is a pint, or a burger, or watching the telly all day. Nobody is proposing you eat these things for breakfast, dinner and tea. What I am proposing however, is that if you haven’t yet, you get off your computer and leg it into town for one of these, or – if you’re a bit brave- follow the recipe and make one at home.
Chill, but do not freeze, the Mars bar by leaving it in a fridge, or freezer, for a short while.
Mix the milk, flour and egg in a bowl.
Whisk together to create a creamy batter.
Heat the oil.
Coat the Mars bar completely in batter.
Lower into hot oil (around 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit) and fry until batter is golden brown. (Note: be careful to lower it gently; otherwise the batter may come off)
Anyone know of other Dublin chippers serving this fantastic offering?