Pie mash and eels,


Writing 101 Favourite meal

Being born and bred in the East End of London, I was weaned on the traditional meal, pie and mash. These were consumed in traditional pie and mash shops, which were dotted around the East End. The pies were made of minced beef and served with mashed potatoes and liqueur (that’s the green gravy,for the uninitiated). The recipes for the pies and the liqueur were closely guarded secrets, passed down in the families of the pie shop proprietors. My family used the shop in Watney Street, owned by the Peter’s family, but there were many others, famously Cooke’s and Manze’s.

The East End was a working class area in the fifties, then as now it had a large immigrant community. Times were hard and money was tight. The highlight of a trip to Watney Street Market was a visit to the pie shop for pie ( or half a pie, depending on how big you were and how flush Mum was that day) and mash.

Oh, did I mention vinegar, (or rather non brewed condiment, as it is labelled in the modern day!) Well an important ingredient of a pie and mash meal was vinegar, and lots of it. For the brave, there was always a bottle on the counter, with a chillie in it.

If  you were very lucky you might get a portion of eels as well. Everyone knows about the East End and Jellied Eels, but they are good served hot too. Some say that it is the eel cooking water that adds the special flavour to the liqueur, which is green because of the parsley which is the main ingredient.

Basic nutritional food, and in my opinion, better than today’s takeaways.

Just writing this is making my mouth water and although I don’t live in the East End any more, I still travel miles just for this special treat.







9 thoughts on “Pie mash and eels,

  1. Marilyn, the image you posted of this meal is exceptionally good. I am a very conservative eater – would not touch eel unless my life depended on it – but the rest looks quite delicious, even the green gravy, now that I know it is parsley! I had no idea of this variation of pie, mash and gravy so found this very interesting. I liked the history of it too.


  2. I know what you mean by favorite food. No indulgence is as emotionally fulfilling as of the taste buds. It’s as intense as sex. It’s so enjoyable, your reading I mean. I could actually taste the stuff and my mouth watered. I have no idea how this particular meal you have described, actually tastes like. Good writing.


  3. I appreciated the picture Marilyn. I would’ve believed you, just wouldn’t have been able to visualize it. I intend having pie and mash tomorrow night, but with brown gravy. No eels handy, haven’t had eel for decades.


  4. My family are from the East End as well, although they used to frequent Rinkoff’s bakery, Bloom’s and Grodzinski’s rather than pie shops. Still love Petticoat lane market and Beigel Bake salt beef on platzel. Nothing quite like the East End!


  5. I’m sure it’s a delicious dish by your description & it’s wonderful to have such memories with your family. I’m glad you enjoyed my post & thank you for your visit.


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