During the 18th and 19th Centuries the River Thames was filthy and the only creature able to survive in its murky waters was the humble eel, making it a cheap source of food for the working men and women of London. The Spud was another source of cheap food and they were mashed up as a side dish to a pie alternative. This pie consisted of cheap mince without onions or any other ingredients. To add a bit of flavour a parsley sauce, known as liquor; made from eel juice originally, was added. Thus was born Pie & Mash.
Now I’ve never been one for eels and have managed to avoid their dubious charms, but Pie & Mash, oh boy what a treat!
It’s the Tiles and the sawdust flooring. The bench and pew seating. The spoon and fork of mismatched cutlery. The vinegar, the white pepper, the liquor. The slightly burnt crust of the pie the soft pastry base absorbing the juices. The trowelled on mashed potato (the real thing not Robot endorsed Smash) at the side of the plate and the warming feeling as one gulps down the combination of flavours and textures.
I love the old world charm of the original Pie & Mash shops. I love the smell. I love Pie & Mash for its taste but also as it conjures up Saturday afternoons in Chapel Street market. A trip to the Pie & Mash shop was an inducement to accompany my mum on her weekly shopping trip up ‘chap’.