Everyone knows that what makes a Cockney a Cockney is to be born within the sound of the Bow bells from St. Mary-le-Bow. But some also say that to be a true Cockney, you should also be born “within the sound of a toothless gentleman wearing a flat cap and slurping a bowl of jellied eels”.
The jellied eel tradition is still very much alive in the East End where it all began. The eels were easy to capture in the Thames and easy to take to market as well. Gordon Ramsey called them “The most challenging dish to prepare.” Want to give it a go? If not, you’ll find them served up in pie and mash shops like Nathan’s: Pie and Eels, where Barking Road meets Green Street.
Wandering the streets with my dad after a West Ham game on Monday, we stopped to marvel at the crowd gathered outside of Nathan’s and the delicate white-haired ladies serving up the traditional Victorian-era grub. They plopped mountains of mash and pie on plates and poured over a liquor sauce which is made from the water that the eels are boiled in.
Have you been brave enough to try jellied eels? Have you grown up on them? What do you think?
Here’s some photos I took the other day.
A traditional East End cook:
And a Gordon Ramsey take on eels…
love this! i can imagine the iron chef tv show with eel as the secret ingredient.
Yummy Pie n Mash not had that for agessssssss – Jellied Eels i`ve never liked the look of em but my Mum loved them. Peckham used to have lots of pie and mash shops – most have closed down. Kennedy’s the butchers sold the best Sausages ever – boy do I miss them. I remember a Kennedys in Herne Hill all gone 😦
Love your photos of Nathans! I’ve never had jellied eels but I’ve had pie and liquor – used to be an amazing pie and mash shop in Greenwich. Now sadly gone 😦
Couldn’t bear to watch the Gordon Ramsey clip I’m afraid, that man makes me quite unwell just to look at him let alone hear his voice!
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Double pie double mash and liquor! Me and my two sons have a regular order before every West Ham home game. It’s a ritual. And we love it. The best pies east of Aldgate!