The History of Pie and Mash

September 24, 2016

Meat Pie Western

Takeaway food was very much different in Victorian times. People would grab a pie from a street pieman as a quick takeaway meal. These pies, which were made fresh each day, could be a meat pie an eel pie or maybe a fruit pie. These pieman would walk the streets of London selling pies from a tray as they could not afford a shop or fixed premises.

Pieman in Victorian times would have to be up early to buy their eel stock from the fish market.  In those days, eels were a staple part of a Londoners diet.

Once the eels were bought, the pieman would go back home to freshly prepare and bake their eel pies. These would be sold with vinegar, pea or parsley flavoring, the origins of pie and liquor as we know it now. These were a cheap, healthy and filling meal for working class Londoners.

Slowly, eel and pie shops began appearing. These eel and pie shops would cook their food on the premises and would have tables and chairs for people to eat at, they also sold mash with their pies. The street pieman could not readily compete with these eel and pie shops, who were often located near markets, and so many went out of business. Many of the shops also stocked live eels, as some still do today, which people could buy and take home and cook. The number of shops grew as business prospered and many of the original shops still remain today.

In recent times, the rising shops rents together with a proliferation of takeaway and fast food outlets has meant many pie and mash shops have closed. They were predominantly located in East and South London but smaller numbers of pie and mash shops can now be found in many different parts of the UK. Pie and mash still remains a popular dish, if a little misunderstood, and for many it brings back childhood memories of a pie and mash dinner with mum and dad.

Sean Horton is a fan of pie and mash and provides marketing support for Goddard’s Pies Limited who have been making pie and mash since 1890.

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