IT’S a fast food choice that defines Edinburgh and Glasgow . . . the colour of the sauce you slap on your chips.
But the ancient grudge that divides two cities has reared its head again after a disgruntled punter was told there was a charge if he wanted tomato sauce – but not Capital favourite salt ‘n’ sauce. Glasgow-born Tony Winters is taking his complaint to trading standards after a Capital chippy tried to charge him 25p for a small sachet of Heinz tomato ketchup. He says he is being unfairly treated because he is Glaswegian and that that amounts to “racial discrimination”.
Feeling peckish, he went to the Gold Sea, Ferry Road, and ordered a sausage supper for himself, and a hamburger and fish supper, for his fiancé and a friend. But he left with a real chip on his shoulder after staff told him there was a charge for his ketchup while the Edinburgh favourite –salt and sauce – was free.
He said: “I couldn’t believe it. Every chip shop I know gives ketchup free of charge. A condiment is a condiment.
“You can’t offer one customer brown sauce for nothing and then charge another for tomato sauce.
“I said I thought it was racist that if you come from Edinburgh you can get brown sauce free but people from elsewhere, who like ketchup, have to pay. They just said it’s what they do.
“We went to another chip shop and the guy was killing himself laughing when we told him. It reeks of racism. Just because we come from the west and tend to like ketchup instead of brown sauce. It’s clear they’re discriminating and I don’t think it’s right.”
The dad-of-five, who has lived in Edinburgh for 18 years, said he had never been charged for condiments – in the Capital or Glasgow.
The electrical engineer, from Granton, was so offended he left the shop without paying - and without his dinner.
He added: “I’m feeling racially persecuted because of a condiment. People might think it’s silly but I do think that’s what it is.
“I have been here for 18 years and would consider myself an Edinburgh citizen.
“If something is morally wrong, I will shout from the heavens. I feel in this instance, it is morally wrong.
“There is no justifiable reason to be given to charge for one and not the other when they can buy them both in bulk and I’m sure they’d cost the same.
“At the end of the day you can go to plenty of other places and you wouldn’t get charged for it coming in a sachet.”
A straw poll of the Capital’s fish and chip shops found only one, out of the 12 shops asked, that charged for any of its condiments.
But Paul Crolla, owner of Gold Sea, defended his decision to put a price on the branded sachets.
The businessman, whose father ran the popular fish bar before him, said he would only offer customers the finest quality produce and as such, they had to pay. He said many places offering free tomato sauce use cheaper, unbranded versions, which he was not prepared to do. He denied there was any discriminatory thinking, but added that salt and sauce was what most punters wanted.
“Fish and chips is an Edinburgh thing and people want salt and sauce on it. That’s the tradition.
“If you go west to Glasgow, it’s salt and vinegar. If it was up to me I wouldn’t give anyone ketchup because it ruins the whole thing. Salt and sauce goes with fish and chips, anything extra should be paid for.”
The shop offers seven sauces, including mayonnaise and chilli – which also cost extra.
“It’s not just like we offer two sauces, we do it so customers have a choice. For this guy to suggest it is discriminatory takes the biscuit. It’s like going into a car dealership and saying you want an electric sunroof instead of electric windows, it’s ridiculous.”
Salt and sauce lovers across the city have leapt to the traditional condiment’s defence.
Hazel Godfrey, 65, from Trinity, said it was as much a part of the city as some of its most famous landmarks.
She said: “Brown sauce just belongs to Edinburgh. It’s part of the city’s culture.
“I’m sure they meant no harm in it but I can see why he might be annoyed, perhaps they should both be free.”
Claims the decision to charge for ketchup had discriminatory undertones were laughed off by pensioner Barbara Hall, 76, from Eskbank, who said all sauces are the same. She said: “I think it’s really bizarre that someone would say this is racist. It’s just two types of sauce. It’s very odd.”
However, a fellow Glaswegian, Ian Graham, said there was no debate to be had, arguing the seaside classic should have come with free red sauce. He said: “I wouldn’t buy it if I found out it cost extra, whichever sauce it was.”
Trading Standards said it was up to individual traders to decide if they wanted to charge for sauces and said there was no case to answer.
‘It’s up to the shop’
“SAUCEGATE” has stirred up debate amongst the city’s legal experts.
Patrick McGuire, a partner at Thompsons, said Mr Winters had every right to test his claim in court.
He said: “This story has stirred in me the access to justice equivalent of the famous quote often attributed in error to the philosopher Voltaire: ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it’. If someone believes that their rights have been infringed they have the right to test that in a court of law. That is the most basic human right everyone should possess as a mark of any civilised society.” But Innes Clark, pictured, head of Morton Fraser’s employment team, said the chip shop did not have a case to answer.
He said: “Whilst the ambit of unlawful discrimination has widened very considerably over the years, it would not cover Mr Winters’ situation. The chip shop is not acting unlawfully. As a west coaster myself I’ve always been more than happy with just salt and vinegar. It is up to the individual shop whether it wants to charge for its condiments.”
Comment: Sauce for all
Hungry Tony Winters was furious when the excellent Gold Sea chippy charged him for tomato sauce – because it offers its hordes of regular punters salt and sacue for free. The News would love to see free tomato sauce in all Edinburgh chippys – and free salt and sauce on the menu in Glasgow takeaways.