Ok so I reckon that most people in London (real Londoners included) have never tried Jelled Eels. After all have you seen what they look like?
I've scraped tastier looking treats from the bottom of my shoes!
But I live in London and this is the Year31Project. So I thought: what better way to really kick start this project than to eat Jellied Eels for the first time.
Where to begin? Where would they serve jellied eels these days? 100 years ago it was a staple of the average Cockney's daily diet with stalls and shops all over London (especially the East End) serving up jellied eels to it's many customers. It was a booming business. There were (according to Wikipedia which makes it fact) over 100 eel, pie and mash houses in London at the end of the Second World War. And although according to this article a taste for jellied eels is currently sweeping the country. Places that serve jellied eels are much harder to come by these days.
So the search was on and in my search I had three main tools. Google. Twitter. Facebook. Thank you for the internet! I decided to put a shout out on Twitter: "Anyone know a good place (London) to get #JelliedEels? I've never tried them & think I should. Old fashioned pie & mash shop might be good?"
& I got three replies (thank you Hannah, Corrina & Rachael). My friend Rachael suggested 'Goddards at Greenwich'.
I googled it and it looked like the perfect place. A traditional Pie and Mash shop - which although only in its current location for a few years - has roots that go all the way back to 1890.
As it happens "me mate Ash" - who I lived with at uni over 10 years ago - was down for the weekend and so I roped him to help with filming and taking photographs, with the promise - of what would no doubt be a top notch - pie and mash. He was more than happy to come along and lend a hand but unfortunately not so keen to join in eating the eels (especially after he's seen them).
So as Ash ordered up a delicious and hearty looking chilli beef pie with mash and gravy. I ordered the jellied eels! I don't know how often they are requested but the look on the face of the woman behind the counter made it seem like not very often. I really should have asked her how many dishes they sell. Hopefully I will get better at this blogging and video making malarky as I go along.
The eels were fairly inexpensive (£3.20 for a bowl) but then how much can you charge for something that looks so absolutely revolting? You've seen the picture above (and here's another below). Just the sight of them and the thought 'I'm going to have to eat this' was enough to have me retching. But in truth, once I'd gotten over the initial shock of what they looked like and tried them. They actually weren't that bad! Well... they certainly weren't good. They were pretty bland. I love fish (& seafood) and although they tasted a bit like fish, it was really bad fish and not fish I'd necessarily want to eat again. The eels were not good - not helped by the fact that they are cold - but not as bad as I thought they would be and certainly nowhere near as bad as they look!
If you want to try jellied eels, I'd say go for it. It's certainly an experience! Although not a particularly pleasant one haha. However, that said. I ate them as they came and I've been told that it's best to try them with liquor (a type of parsley sauce traditionally made from the water used to cook the eels) or as the colourful man sat next to us said "you're supposed to eat them with pepper and vinegar". However, by that point I'd had 3 or 4 mouthfuls - and had footage of me eating it - which was more than enough for me.
Time to get some proper food.
I would highly recommend visiting Goddards if you're in Greenwich. The Jellied eels aren't great but the Chicken and Ham pie I had afterwards was really tasty.
And just in case there is any suggestions from you cynical bunch that I didn't eat Jellied Eels. Here's the video evidence :)