#LaPresse: “Take the eel take a look at in London | Jean-Christophe Laurence ” #Toronto #Montreal #Calgary #Ottawa #Canada


The reception will not be very warm. As quickly as we enter his institution, Bob Cooke seems at us with a cautious eye, as if we had been bothering him. When ordered jellied eels (eels in jelly), nevertheless, he decays and sketches a small smile underneath his mustache. That appears to please him. In a couple of minutes, the bowl arrives on our desk. Inside: half a dozen items of eel bathed in a sort of translucent jello.

Guessing our dread, Mr. Cooke comes to sit down in entrance of us to supply his recommendation. “Take it with your fingers, it's much simpler. Especially do not eat bones. That's it … ”

To our shock, the expertise will not be so disagreeable. To say that one enjoys oneself can be mendacity. But these viscous slices, served chilly within the jelly, have a small style of fairly bland fish that goes fairly properly. “And it's even better with chili vinegar,” says restaurant proprietor F.Cooke, who left his dangerous temper on the counter.

Classics of yesteryear

Jellied eels . Eels in jelly. The identify alone offers him a heartache. In London, a handful of eateries nonetheless serve them, to the delight of the nostalgic, the aged and vacationers in quest of exoticism.

The pie and mash retailers as they’re name, are the final vestiges of a vanished world. At the start of the 20th e these little eating places ran the streets, to the delight of the decrease lessons, who got here to style the home specialty: mashed potatoes and meat pies ( mash and pie ) sprinkled with inexperienced parsley sauce, all with eels, jelly or not. The ugly creature swarmed within the Thames and was an reasonably priced dish for the plebs. But this time is over.

In the identical means because the eel, which is endangered within the United Kingdom, the pie and mash retailers shut one after the opposite, taking with them a slice of Victorian England and English well-liked tradition. “30 years ago, we were at least 120. Today, no more than thirty,” says Fred Howell, proprietor of Castle's, an institution within the Camden neighborhood.


The restaurant F.Cooke

Photo Jean-Christophe Laurence, The Press

One might blame the invasion of McDonald's, globalization or just the pure evolution of tastes, however in response to him, this sluggish and inescapable disappearance has just one trigger: gentrification. “People from the neighborhood, they sell their family home and move to the coast,” he laments in a cockney accent to chop the knife. I don’t blame them, but it surely melts our clients. The new residents are much less keen on this sort of menu. ”

Frozen in Time

The surviving eating places, they’re removed from being gentrified. Spared by the phenomenon hipster these institutions classic appear as frozen in time because the eels of their jelly

Opened in 1900 by the grandfather of Bob, F. Cooke sums up this resistance to alter alone. Furnished with picket benches and lengthy marble tables, the eating room is roofed with interval tiles, with an outdated stained glass window on the again. As on the time, sawdust was spilled on the bottom to soak up the harm of inexperienced sauce or jelly.

A real journey again in time, within the coronary heart of the Hackney district.

“I am the only street business that has not changed. Around me, I do not recognize anything. ”

Even the costs are classic, it appears, since at 3.50 kilos the bowl of eels (round $ 7), F.Cooke can brag about providing the most affordable dish within the neighborhood. The solely main change is that fish are actually purchased within the Netherlands as a result of England has imposed a moratorium on eel fishing. It can be added that even the patrons are classic . At 70 years outdated and with again issues that compelled him to stroll bent in half, Bob is unquestionably a part of the decor. Just like Fred, who would virtually be confused with the plywood partitions and the very brown molded plastic chairs Seventies from Castle's.

Will there be any new era after this era? To ask the query, is to reply it. Whether or not we just like the jellied eels we’ll quickly have to guard all of those distinctive locations that had been rescued from one other period, together with their menu. Otherwise, they’ll disappear within the mists of historical past …

“Previously Published on: 2018-06-26 09:54:00, as ‘


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