Pie, Mash, Liquor & Eels: Foodie-in-Training

I was introduced to the traditional London fare of Pie, Mash, Liquor and Eels in West London, but on a cold Winters day in East London, we couldn’t resist sampling a proper East End family recipe.

The meal is recorded as early as 1851, being sold by ‘Pie and Eel Men’ on the street, with Pie shops starting to pop up from the middle of the 19th Century, mostly putting the street sellers out of business due to economies of scale.

Normally eaten with Spoon & Fork, us Westie noobs used Knife & Fork, but I don’t think they noticed…

The basic premise is you get a beef/chicken pie, creamy mash, liquor sauce (a mostly clear containing Parsley and a few secret ingredients) and quality jellied eels (if desired). It is simply the best, quick, easy cheap comfort food on a cold winters day, and I imagine that dock workers adored it on their Dinner breaks.

I love that there is no artifice, it’s straight up yummy grub. No airs, no graces – the Gravy was served from a plastic jug which delighted hubby “it’s just like ours at home!”.

The Liquor Sauce, sexy.

Hubby and I are Pie snobs, but these Pies were golden and flaky, full of chunks of meat, the Mash creamy and moreish, the Liquor a nice light counterpoint, and the gravy perfect (I wish I could get mine as nice). Even the tea was great (it also hit the spot). Upon our return, I’m definately trying the Eels.

A sign on the wall of G Kelly’s near Bow warns you “Attention: You may not consume any food other than pie and mash in this shop” telling you of the breadth of the menu, but it really doesn’t need to include anything else. The key to doing something really well, is to do it repeatedly, and the Kelly family have been doing since 1937, and do it so well (in my ‘professional’ opinion that is!).

Kelly’s also offers Gravy with their pies, and a range of sweet pies that looked scrumptious but we didn’t get a chance to try. (This isn’t in any way a comped post – I just love sharing ‘finds’ – and this is only a 20min bus ride from Liverpool Street.)

I think some foods taste better with context, and it was great eating them in a clearly local place, surrounded with East End accents. One bloke had his upset baby Granddaughter with him, and apologised for her crying, explaining that it was because “she really wanted his Eels”. She was still a babe in arms – that’s proper Cockney.

Would you try Eels? What is the weirdest thing you have tried?

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