The Joy of an Englishman When He Finds Malt Vinegar Abroad

Dear Diary,

Molho InglêsI can’t believe it. For the first time in over two years, it appears I may be able to have some malt vinegar with my chips.

In the UK, chips and vinegar go together like pie and peas, but in the Netherlands, chips are generally served with mayonnaise. There are a few other options as well. Tomato sauce is popular and chips are also eaten with sate sauce or curry sauce. I’ve even had the opportunity to eat chips with apple puree, but I was never able to find malt vinegar in any of the shops. Not even on the shelves of large supermarkets that had international food aisles.

I don’t remember seeing malt vinegar for sale in Spain either and, although I am a big fan of chips and mayonnaise and have been since my first visit to Amsterdam more than 30 years ago, when I was living in the Netherlands I occasionally had the desire to have some vinegar with my chips, especially when I was eating chips I’d cooked myself.

Today, I was in a small Portuguese supermarket and saw a small bottle that said “Molho Inglês”. I don’t speak Portuguese, but when I read the description on the bottle I felt sure I was holding a little bottle of malt vinegar.

At €1.19 for a small 120ml bottle, the price was perhaps a little expensive for Portugal, but I had to have it and a big bottle would be wasted on me because I’ll be moving on again in a couple of weeks and I won’t be taking my bottle of vinegar with me. So what did it taste like? Was it all that I’d hoped? The simple answer is no. I haven’t tried it on chips yet, but I tasted a little from my finger and it doesn’t taste quite the same as malt vinegar in the UK, but I flavor is almost right. The acid test will come the next time I cook chips.          (It wasn’t malt vinegar at all)

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