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Sep 19, 2008 12:21 AM

Things only found in London

Ok this has probably been covered inside of other threads, but to elicit some info on this subject alone...give me your top 3 foods that can only be found in London. What do they do in London that isn't done anywhere else...or isn't done RIGHT anywhere else? And of course, where to find these items. Thanks.

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  1. These may not be exclusively London, but I'm sure others out there will put me straight if they're widely available...

    Jellied eels
    Saveloys - those big fat bready frankfurter type things you get in all London chippies. Not sure if you can get them elsewhere, but you can't get them up north.

    The other thing I thought of was not so much the food, but the tradition of blokes with trays of cockles and prawns going into pubs and selling them to the punters as snacks. I used to love that - and a more healthy snack to have with your beers than a packet of crisps.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Theresa

      What pubs does this happen in Theresa I would love to know!

      My contribution is not really a food - but I love the little green cabbie cafe/rest stops (any hints on ones that a non- cabbie can "eat in" rather than take away welcome). They are pretty unique to London as far as I know.

      1. re: Gourmet Chick

        I've not lived in London for many years, so I don't know if it still happens. I used to live in south London (Dulwich, Peckham, Camberwell), and each evening the guys used to tour round some of the pubs I used to drink in - they looked a bit like the old fashioned ice cream sellers at the cinema, with a basket/tray thing attached to a strap around their neck.

        1. re: Theresa

          I've never seen the blokes coming into the pub, but there's a pub near me in Elephant & Castle that has a little seafood stand parked next to it all the time - I forget the name of the pub, but it's on Brandon Street, SE17. It's also impossible to discuss the subject of seafood sellers without mentioning Tubby Isaacs, his cart is parked on Goulston Street in Whitechapel, outside the Aldgate Exchange pub, he's something of a local celebrity!

          1. re: babybat

            Yes - there always used to be a stall outside the pub by Peckham Rye - I think it was called the Kings Arms or something. This is going back 25 years or so! I've always had the impression that the seafood stalls and sellers inside pubs were always a south or east London thing, and that it didn't happen elsewhere in the city - but I could be wrong.

            1. re: Theresa

              How bizarre! I am reading this sitting in the building that used to be the Kings on the Rye which maybe the pub you are referring to? It is now my flat! And I just wrote a blog post about British food too and I made some 'liquor'...

      2. re: Theresa

        "the tradition of blokes with trays of cockles and prawns going into pubs" - not a London thing, we used to get this in the pubs in Birmingham when I was a student there. I assume it died out as more and more pubs do food, and less and less people eat things like cockles and whelks.

      3. Beigels from the Beigel Bake in Brick Lane - totally different from US versions, and also different from ones you find up north. They're sold plain, or with onion, plus the usual fillings - the chopped herring is a bit sweet for my taste but pretty good all the same.

        There's also a particular London style of smoking salmon (kosher again!). Not sure if he's still there, but there was a stall in Brick Lane that used to sell it (Sundays only), as well as all sorts of pickled herrings and cucumbers. You might find it in Selfridge's food hall.

        The Meantime Brewery are brewing London Porter again: Lovely drink!

        1. Pie, mash and liquor.
          Pie & mash shops found in many London areas but mainly where you will find the old school Londoners. Pie & mash shops will also sell jellied eels as the liquor for pie & mash is made from the water that the eels have been cooked in.
          Traditional pie & mash shops will have tiled walls, marble floors, long marble tables with benches to sit on. They will still look like they did in Victorian times..
          A famous pie & mash place is Manze's in Tower Bridge Road which has been there since about 1900. There are constant queues there and you will see tons of London black cabbies pulling up outside to get their pie & mash to take away.
          Pie & mash is also very cheap.
          Pie & mash places don't tend to stay open late. Manze's shuts by 2pm every day.
          Manze's do have a website.

          1 Reply
          1. re: scooby99

            It's not a food, but Fuller's bitter (brewed in Chiswick) is delicious. London Pride is my favourite beer. Young's Brewery alas has left Wandsworth and the beer is now brewed in the Midlands. I don't know if it tastes the same - I can't bring myself to drink it. As John Young lay dying the firm suffered some sort of horrible transmogrification and is now an upmarket pub-owner and and property developer.