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⚙️ Table Talk #102: Old School Fast Food 🥧

If you’ve been around here a while, you’ll know we can’t resist a good delve into the origin stories of our favourite food and drinks. The tales of both Angostura Bitters and Aperol being two greats. 

So often these stories tell an intriguing tale of a certain place at a certain time and no better example than the tale of pie, mash & liquor in London. 
In Today’s Table Talk we life the lid on everything from where one of the most famous men in the world can be found enjoying his favourite pie to why the eel has slithered out of fashion.


We think of fast food as a modern invention, but the reality is that it is far from it. There’s nothing new about a want for food that curbs a craving and is as swiftly served as it’s satisfying.

The pieman was an important figure in eighteenth century London. Most could be found winning their stripes on the streets, a tray of pies slung around their neck, only the most successful of these building enough custom to then earn a static stall or shop. Pies at this time were mostly filled with eels (a delicacy from London’s Thames), a trend that only faded when The Thames’ eel population dwindled, prices rose and meat became the more economic alternative. 

As the nineteenth century came knocking, industrial revolution took hold and London’s workforce swelled, so too did the number of pie shops mushrooming up along the eastern docklands. Cheap, fast and filling food was exactly the type of fuel needed for hard labour.

Photo Credit: Rob Greig
Published: Issue 5: National Geographic Traveller Food

Today, if visiting one of London’s original pie shops such as Manze’s Walthamstow, you might be surprised by how immaculately well preserved the original decor is. A number of pie shops, like this one, are in fact now Grade II Listed with beautifully tiled walls, marble counter tops and wooden fixtures shining like new. The pie shop’s aesthetic, though originally chosen for its ease of cleaning, absolutely owns its own beauty.

Something else that might surprise you on a trip to your local pie shop is a chance encounter with David Beckham. Becks for years has frequented Tony’s Pie and Mash Shop in Waltham Abbey. Their social media feed is as much a homage to the humble pie as to this humble star. Even last week his oldest son Brooklyn accompanied a trip to the tattoo parlour with a takeaway Tony’s.

Photo Credit: Rob Greig
Published: Issue 5: National Geographic Traveller Food



Our ode to the pie is nearly a wrap, but before we leave you one parting tip. When you're asked if you want liquor don't start looking around for brandy or malt. Liquor in this context has nothing to do with spirits. It’s alcohol free and parsley full. A sauce that’s ladled over your pie, traditionally made with stewed eel water, now more often than not made with chicken stock. It sounds scarier than it tastes, we promise. 

If you do want a drink, likelihood is your pie shop of choice isn't the kind of place where your order of an extra hot, decaf cappuccino with oat milk is going to go down well. Tea, splash of milk and six sugars is where it's at.

Photo Credit: Tony's Pie & Mash House



If you keep an eye on our Instagram and spotted our trip to The Pig last weekend, it may look from the outside like I'm more gallivanter than founder. 

We were down at The Pig at Combe for a very important reason however - our white wine, Piquant, can now be found across all of their hotels. Last week we were meeting the team, providing training and talking about everything from menu placement to food pairings. All parts of the job we love.

If you've never been The Pig at Combe is British countryside at its best - rolling hills, wandering animals from the neighbouring farm and crunching gravel as you approach the breath-taking house. If you do find yourself heading there, know that a crisp, clean and perfectly balanced glass of wine awaits.

Until next Wednesday,

Luke x

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