Gor Blimey, for years now, I've tried to like jellied eels- I really have; and this is from someone who will quite happily tuck into a juicy plate of Tete de Veau when he's living it up in Paris. Trust me, I want to like jellied eels, but somehow the miraculous conversion on the Road to Damascus hasn't quite happened yet. But I'm getting there- slowly.
The photograph shows Tubby Isaac's famous seafood stall in Aldgate, London, which has been feeding "the poor man's delicacy" to hungry East Enders since 1919.
What exactly are jellied eels? Well, the eel is caught- or used to be caught- in the muddy and murky waters of the dear old Thames Estuary. Long, slippery, slimey things. Then they're sliced up and boiled in water with herbs, spices and a bit of gelatine to make a sort of fish stock or jelly. Afficinados like to sprinkle chili vinegar on them, and stress that you need to suck at the bones to get out the full flavour.
I'm fascinated by the traditional Eel, Pie and Mash shops of London. There are not that many left now. I need to get my camera out and go and photograph them for a later post. If anyone out there can point me in the right direction with a particular favourite, please do. I know Manze's in Peckham and F. Cooke in Dalston- although I have a sneaky suspicion that the last one might have closed down.