August 2, 2002
6:35 PM   Subscribe

“London, from one end to the other, teems and steams with eels, alive and stewed; turn where you will, hot eels are everywhere smoking away, with many a fragrant condiment at hand to make what is in itself palatable yet more savoury; and this too at so low a rate, that for one halfpenny a man of the million may fill his stomach with six or seven long pieces, and wash them down with a cupful of the glutinous liquor in which they have been stewed.”
posted by todd (22 comments total)
Eels apparently aren't the only thing London is teeming with -- although I'd wager that eels are the tastier of the two.

I've worked up an appetite just thinking about it.
posted by TBoneMcCool at 6:49 PM on August 2, 2002

I've had eel once, when I was a kid of about 8, after I caught one in a farm pond belonging to family friends. It was about three feet long. Mom consulted some cookbook, skinned the eel (they have a tough, leathery skin), chopped it into steaks, and cooked it, somehow; perhaps as a sauté? As I recall, it was very good.

Interesting article. I wish eel were more available in North America.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 6:50 PM on August 2, 2002

Heh...I had some two nights ago at a sushi restaurant in Pasadena. Yummy.
posted by Optamystic at 7:03 PM on August 2, 2002

Doyo no ushi was just about a week ago in Japan. That's the day predicted to be the hottest of the year, when you are supposed to eat unagi (eel) for the stamina to make it through to autumn. Have a look at the eels getting ready for their big day in this 2MB Quicktime movie. The phallic shape is why they are connected with stamina, is what I'm told. Eel is one of the few Japanese foods I don't care too much for, though I eat it when it ends up in front of me, usually when I eat at my Mother-in-law's house.
posted by planetkyoto at 7:06 PM on August 2, 2002

It's too bad more aren't willing to try eel... likely if they would, they'd find they liked it. I'm picky as all get out over what I'll have on my plate, and I love it, though all I've had chance to try so far is kabayaki and sushi, both of which are oh-so-tasty. Anyone else tried some other dishes they'd recommend?
posted by e^2 at 7:12 PM on August 2, 2002

"In the kitchen were two enormous and slightly crooked pies.

'How pretty,' I said. 'What kind are they?'

'They're medieval fish pies,' she said. 'A variation on “starry-gazey pie". Starry-gazey pie is one in which the crust is slit so that the whole baked eels within can poke their nasty little heads out and look at the pie crust stars with which the top is supposed to be festooned.'

'Oh,' I said, swallowing hard." -- Laurie Colwin, from Home Cooking.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:26 PM on August 2, 2002

I can't eat eel after watching The Tin Drum.
posted by machaus at 7:29 PM on August 2, 2002

Forget eels, try Snake Blood.
posted by girlhacker at 7:31 PM on August 2, 2002

Hello, you simple Northern Folk! We're Cockneys! Yes. East End, born and bred. We love our old mums! Hello! Have you any jellied eels?

And, as if you if needed any more reason to eat eels, substantial scientific research shows that eels will make you sexy and beautiful. Well, what are you waiting for?
posted by zygoticmynci at 7:33 PM on August 2, 2002

My hovercraft is full of eels.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:10 PM on August 2, 2002

I love unagi; it's my favorite sushi! Don't know about eel pie, though.
posted by Lynsey at 8:14 PM on August 2, 2002

Unagi sushi rates just under uni for me as Grossest Japanese Food Eaten To Impress Ladies.
posted by brownpau at 8:18 PM on August 2, 2002

Yeah, that's pretty much why I ate it. Luckily, it turned out to be tasty.
posted by Optamystic at 8:26 PM on August 2, 2002

I'm still digesting.
posted by muckster at 8:33 PM on August 2, 2002

Uni- isn't that sea urchin? I love sushi and sashimi... but I tried sea urchin once as a raw sushi, and it was truly disgusting, IMO.

The eel I've had at sushi restaurants has been in some kind of sweet, almost barbecue tasting sauce. Not a favorite. But I like trying foods new to me.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 8:49 PM on August 2, 2002

London, teeming with eels? I lived in London my whole life, up to a few months ago, and the only time I came across jellied eels was in Norfolk. I was about eight (seems to be the right age for it, Slithy_Tove), and I immediately gobbed them into the toilet.

Perhaps I was just going to the wrong parts of London?
posted by stuporJIX at 3:32 AM on August 3, 2002

Uni would be really great on rice crackers, but I've never worked up the nerve to ask for them at a restaurant and get laughed at behind my back as a stupid gaijin.

Unagi is really great -- it's that teriaki sauce that's akin to American barbecue. My best sushi-eatin' buddy and I agree that if price were no object, you could make a hell of a good eel sandwich out of the stuff.

As for eels, my dad used to reminisce about going gigging for eels in the Delaware when he was a boy (this was late '20s). I never got around to asking for details about how they were prepared, but I bet grilled marinated eel is to die for.
posted by alumshubby at 6:25 AM on August 3, 2002

London, teeming with eels?

That quote was from a book written in 1588. I guess that the Londoners have eaten them all by now.

I lived near Hamburg, Germany for 2 1/2 years and ate a fair amount of eel in the local soups. It was relatively tasty, but rather tough as it'd been boiled. I prefer that smoky unagi flavor.

My house in Germany was on the property of a fish farm that raised eel, carp, and trout. My landlord's dog used to jump into the ponds, grab an eel, wrestle it to death, and then lightly cover it with dirt in the middle of the parking lot so I could slip on it when going out to my car in the morning.
posted by MrBaliHai at 6:48 AM on August 3, 2002

Personally, I was amused by this:

"The first eel pie shops were established in the mid-1700s, a famous one being the Eel Pie House, which began life as an inn on Twickenham Island in the river Thames. It was a favorite of pleasure-boat parties on day outings from London. The picnickers would buy the pies at the Inn and enjoy them beside the river. The grand old inn ended its days occupied and “liberated” by hippies in the late 1960s."

Damn hippies.
posted by kavasa at 11:34 AM on August 3, 2002

I was about eight (seems to be the right age for it, Slithy_Tove), and I immediately gobbed them into the toilet.

I think the question that immediately springs to mind is "Why were you eating eels in the lavatory?"

Anyway, I've had eel, though never the jellied variety. You can get it in the gourmet aisle in those little sardine tins, smoked I think.
posted by Kafkaesque at 12:08 PM on August 3, 2002

eating eels in the lavatory

Does that mean what I think it means?
posted by kirkaracha at 1:21 PM on August 3, 2002

I think the question that immediately springs to mind is "Why were you eating eels in the lavatory?"

Believe me, it's the only way to do it. Actually, I was on a narrow boat on the Norfolk Broads (as in broads, rather than broads), and you're never far from a loo on a narrow boat.
posted by stuporJIX at 1:22 PM on August 3, 2002

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