While most of us are familiar with the UK’s traditional dishes, from the likes of roast beef to sherry trifle. But when it comes to Becks and Posh (that’s Cockney for nosh), there’s much more on offer than fish ‘n’ chips and beef burgers – as the east end of the city has its own unique dishes to dive into. From jellied eels to cockles and winkles, we’ve rounded up some of the most authentic cockney delicacies (or ‘luvverly grub’ as the locals call it) to sample while you’re in the capital.
Perhaps the most popular East end dish, you can’t call yourself a cockney until you’ve tried a plate of these.
Dating back to the 18th century, you can eat the boiled and then chopped sea creatures hot or cold. Not only are the eels cheap to buy, but they’re nutritious too – hence their popularity amongst the capital’s poorest families back in the day. Today, you can find a variety of modern twists at pie and mash shops throughout the capital.
These popular molluscs are another essential addition to a standard east-end seafood platter and are often served alongside jellied eels and winkles. A smaller sibling to clams, these creatures used to be hand raked from the Thames, but don’t worry as today most are from salt water areas.
These shellfish are the snails of the sea and are an important part of the traditional cockney seafood platter. Often sold live, you won’t have to worry about it slithering off your plate at a pub as they’ll be freshly boiled to perfection. Whelks are another type of sea snail, which you might also come across on a menu.
These pickled herring fillets are another typical taste of East end London. Before being rolled into a cylindrical shape, these gems are filled with a savoury concoction – which tends to differs depending on where you end up trying them. Whichever version you go for, these sides make for a tasty accompaniment to any salad with your meal.
Pie and Mash
Finally, no trip east would be complete without tucking into a hefty helping on pie and mash. Whether it’s a steak and kidney one, chicken and mushroom or the traditional beef, you won’t regret your choice, whatever you end up ordering.
And they are also a great stop over for a side of jellied eels too. If you don’t eat meat, that’s OK as there are usually soya mince substitute fillings to stuff your face with and some pie and mash shops have fruit pies and crumbles for pudding. But whatever you do – don’t forget the ‘liquor’ – a parsley sauce that smothers your plate as the pie and mash soaks up the seasoning and flavours.
With Chicken Tikka Masala being crowned ‘Britain’s national dish,’ you can’t go to East London without having a curry. Although a more modern addition to Cockney cuisine, the likes of White Chapel and Brick Lane are amongst the city’s original sites to go for a slap up Indian or Bangladeshi main. It’s also one of the cheapest meals to have out too – as just like the Asian custom, you can haggle for your price.
Morven McCulloch is a travel writer who lives in London. If you’re looking for good deals on flights or a place to stay throughout the city, she recommends checking out the deals from Holiday Discount Centre.