Fish ‘n’ kicks: British Ambassador to the US to host embassy open house, kick off DC United game

WTOP's Dave Johnson speaks with British Ambassador Kim Darroch

The life of British Ambassador to the United States Kim Darroch is going to be different this weekend.

On Saturday Darroch will welcome an expected 10,000 visitors to the British Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue as part of the European Union Embassies’ Open House. Darroch’s weekend will wrap up Sunday night when he kicks off the D.C. United match at Audi Field by delivering a pass to England’s all-time greatest goal scorer and current United captain Wayne Rooney.

“Let me tell you, when I got here three years ago this was not anywhere on the list of things I expected to do,” Darroch said of this weekend’s responsibility. “And I did not expect to be kicking the ball to a former England captain and one of our most famous footballers of recent generations. It’s a surprise, but one of the best surprises you can imagine.”

The British Embassy and Darroch’s home will be open to the public Saturday. Guests have a chance to walk through the gardens and see the residence as it would look for a State dinner and experience Great Britain through its food, business and culture.

“First of all, it is our way of saying thank you to the Washington community who are so kind and welcoming and generous to us for the rest of the year,” Darroch said. “It is an opportunity to showcase British products and you will see the British Embassy, I believe our finest residence anywhere in the world. There is a lot of history inside those walls.”

The British Embassy’s chef will be preparing British-style fish-n-chips. Battered fish accompanied by what Americans call fries might seem simple, but like all great delicacies the secret is in the preparation.

“First of all, it’s the batter around the fish that needs to be beautifully crisp and that is just the perfect coating,” Darroch said. “Second the best British fish-n-chips is kind of quite chunky chips — not the French fry style — and you need the right potatoes for that and then vinegar on it and lots of salt. I can’t claim it’s the healthiest ever dish, but eaten in moderation you can’t beat it.”

When Darroch goes to the D.C. United match Sunday, fish-n-chips will be available at Audi Field along with another British favorite: bangers and mash. Perhaps Darroch will have some of the British fare as his pregame meal so he is ready for his ceremonial first kick with Wayne Rooney.

“I don’t want to kick it like 20 yards away from him,” Darroch noted as he discussed planning his pass to Rooney. “I am quietly confident I can manage a 5-yard pass to somewhere approximating to where Wayne Rooney is standing.

Or perhaps Darroch will surprise the fans Sunday at Audi Field.

“It would be tempting to try and score a goal from the halfway line and hope the goalkeeper is out of position and just lob it over his head, but maybe I will be a bit more restrained than that.”

After all, Ambassador Darroch is a diplomat first.

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