Pie, Mash, Liquor and Eels. London Food!

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We love British food at World Travel Family. We love most food, to be honest. We have a passion for Thai and a fixation with Indian, my husband loves food so much he’s made a career out of it. He’s a chef, busy now in a 5-star kitchen on Park Lane. Right now we’re in London on a mission to track down real London food, not just British food, real London specialities. We found London traditional dishes such as pie, mash and liquor, jellied eels and hot eels in Greenwich.

Traditional London Food Pie Mash Liquor Hot Eels to buy in London
Traditional London Food – Pie and Mash – with Eels.

Food in Britain

Right now we’re in the country of my birth, Britain. I’m on a mission to share British food with the world, it gets a bad press sometimes and that is totally unjustified.

The UK has its regional specialities, I’m sure you can think of a few. Today I bring you one of London’s food classics and a dish I’d never tried. I knew of it from TV shows in the same way that I knew about Pearly Kings and Cockney rhyming slang.

I’m not a Londoner, I’m from Wales, brought up on lava, cockles and Welsh cakes. We called London home for around 8 years and on this visit, as travellers or tourists, we thought we’d try to track down London specialties.

Traditional London Food

 Pie mash and liquor, traditional London food
Pie mash and liquor. The real deal, the real London.

I’m not talking Sunday roasts, a nice cup of tea and full English breakfasts, they’re found all over the UK and aren’t specific to London. I wanted to search for something uniquely London,  in the same way that we search for regional specialties in every country we visit. We’re not going to be going to the fancy restaurants in search of delicacies, we want to find the people’s food, the street food, if you like.

Pie Mash, Hot Eels and Liquor

I think pie and mash fits the bill.  Pie mash and gravy would probably do, but the real deal is pie mash and eels. The eels originally came from the Thames and surrounding area and were cooked to produce a liquor. The liquor is served with pies today as pie, mash and liquor. The fishy flavour has gone, today’s liquor is more like a parsley sauce and can go with any sort of pie, the traditional pie being minced beef. but you can get just about any filling you like.

Hot Eels and Jellied Eels

Hot Eels in Parsley Liquor London food

I chose to try the hot eels. I’m not into jelly in savoury dishes, so this was a safer option for me.

I’ve eaten eel many times, in Asia and at home. It’s just fish, nothing to be scared of. I’m kicking myself now for not at least getting a photo of the jellied eels to share with you, but I thought hot eels would be more interesting, particularly as I’d never heard of this dish. The parsley liquor is the same as that served with the pies.

Other Traditional London Food

Salt Beef Sandwiches

 salt beef stall London. Borough Market. British food.
Salt beef stall at London’s fabulous Borough Market.

We’ve already tried hot salt beef sandwiches, another dish with a very London feel. The Jewish community introduced the capital to the benefits of salting brisket to preserve and tenderise. We tracked that London favourite down at Borough Market, a foodie heaven near London Bridge.

Fish and Chips in London

If you’re searching for the best fish and chips in London, Poppies holds the crown, we tried their Camden Market shop. A big thumbs up from us for their mushy peas, real potato chips and perfect batter.

Goddards at Greenwich

hot eels shop in London. Also pie and mash

Pie, mash and liquor in London goes back to the 1800 s. Goddards has been serving them since 1890.

It’s a family business, it was lovely to meet Jeff Goddard and hear about the days when his grandfather ran the Greenwich shop. He’s been serving pies since he was 10, you can read more about the family on the Goddards at Greenwich website. Everything is hand made from traditional family recipes and they rightly hold a Trip Advisor certificate of excellence

The pie shop itself is a lovely little time warp just a few paces from the Cutty Sark or the Maritime Museum. We’ve spent a couple of days exploring Greenwich, it’s a fascinating area rich with history and educational experiences, one we think you should try to visit on your trip to London. We have several more posts to come on this area.

Menu Pie and mash sop with jellied and hot eels London
Menu at the pie and mash shop in London including jellied and hot eels.

We thought the Goddards pies were excellent, crisp pastry and a delicious filling, full of real flavours, not synthetic ones. Good news for vegetarians, there are cheese and onion and soy mince versions. I tried the soy mince, it was excellent. The story goes that it was invented in honour of a local politician, a vegetarian who wanted a meat style pie. The Goddard family granted his wish in response to his help in a time of crisis.

The Goddards pie shop is licensed, I need to go back with Chef for a pie and a pint. My 8-year-old, little Boo, wants me to mention that he bravely tried the eels first. What a hero.


London Would You Try this Traditional London Food

On your next visit to London, or any other part of the world, search out the smaller businesses, the family-run places that give you a real taste of the region you’re exploring. Travel is far more rewarding if you hunt out interesting experiences in every area, that includes lunch. Don’t go to the big chains, give the real food of the area a chance, you’ll find it in little shops like this, in market stalls, pubs and independent restaurants to suit your personal budget. Travel and learning go hand in hand for us, yesterday we learnt a little more about London’s history through traditional London food. Want to know more about where to eat in London (and not be ripped off as a tourist) try here.

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About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

12 thoughts on “Pie, Mash, Liquor and Eels. London Food!”

  1. Really
    You are not into jelly.
    Gelatin and aspic were a sign of high food and most food was served as prepared this way. That is a cretinous remark. Obviously you know nothing of London

  2. Oh yes, although english cuisine is not my fave (well, I am Greek) you can find in London such a great variety of polyerthnic food!! I have eaten the best indian in England!@

  3. London always has interesting foods to try out. I think British food always gets a bad rap but there are some great things to try!

  4. That Goddards place looks really nice! So cosy and very British! 🙂 Have had pie, mash and gravy many times on vacations in England and London but never the eel version. I must admit that I have never eaten eel, not even in Asia where we have traveled a lot. It is something with it`s jelly texture that don`t look so tempting :). I totally agree with you on small family run restaurants, they give you the most genuine food experiences! Will definitely try Goddards the next time we visit London!

  5. English food is the best. After 6 months in the US we can’t wait to eat some good wholesome comfort food in the form of a pie and mash. Great article and will give us some options when we are there next spring.

  6. Yes! I remember Goddards in Greenwich! In the mid-90’s I used to be a consultant and our office was in Greenwich. Goddards’ was just around the corner and either we would nip in there or order something from the local pub that was downstairs!

    A few years ago, I took my family to Greenwich and I looked around for where my office used to be and I just couldn’t find it anymore as Greenwich has totally changed. In those days it was the back end of beyond and now it’s quite trendy. Not a bad thing for local businesses.

    I’m going to make sure I go there next time I’m back in London! Thanks awfully for sharing Alyson.

  7. Yes I agree…I was there too!! The pies were totally delicious and I’m not a pie eater! They complemented the mash and sauce well. I will certainly be going back to try another pie and just hope that this time I can fit one of the delicious fruit dessert pies in too. As you can see the prices are very reasonable and it’s great to know that this is a family business of long standing. The staff were very friendly even though they were very, very busy which is always a good sign. Thanks for inviting me along!

    • @Suzanne Sherwood, when I was back in England 3 years ago, I had lunch at Goddards. Two pies, double mash and liquor , then a fruit pie and custard later, I was stuck to my chair….too full of course. But the food was delicious. Well worth the discomfort!


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