I’m all for local food patriotism. I spent a few years in London’s East End as a young man, and there was nothing I liked better after some lunchtime beers than to get into a pie and mash shop for a generous helping of the said product. For those of you that don’t know, pie and mash is traditional working-class east London grub – and consists of a minced beef pie and mashed potato. It is common for the mashed potato to be spread around one side of the plate and for a type of parsley sauce - called eel liquor – to be poured over the inverted pie – which was usually cut open to allow the sauce to ooze through.
It is known as eel liquor as it is traditionally made using the water kept from the preparation of the stewed eels – another east London delicacy. The sauce has a vibrant green colour from the parsley content and traditionally pie and mash shops have white tile walls - with maybe a bit of Minton-Hollis tile decoration and marble floors, tables and work tops, which are easy to clean and have a distinctive Victorian appearance.
By contrast I wasn’t a fan of jellied eels, I’m afraid. Tubby Issac’s Jellied Eel Stall is still going strong in the Aldgate area and has been there since 1919 – although I seem to remember that the stall was placed elsewhere in the 70’s and 80’s – nearer Aldgate East underground station and the bottom of Commercial Street. It will be a sad day if the stall closes for good – which may well be the case according to the website here:-
Unfortunately some of the pie and mash shops seem to be under threat themselves from fast-food chains. The one I go to these days – admittedly not since 2009 - is Roy’s Pie and Mash in Hornchurch, almost next door to the pub. The pie and mash shops that are still in existence do a booming trade apparently – especially on Saturday night.
Unit 3, 46-62 High Street
Tel: 01708 478410