The English Man and the Eel… A journey into the Eel Pie & Mash shop

The English Man and The Eel - A Story

Posted on November 30th, 2017

The English Man and the Eel… Book signing by the Author, Stuart Freedman, on Saturday, December 9th at Arments!

The Englishman & the Eel is a journey into that most London of institutions, the Eel, Pie and Mash shop. Today, these simple spaces hold within them the memories of a rich, largely undocumented cultural heritage of generations of working-class Londoners in a city whose only constant is change.

Stuart Freedman grew up in East London in the 1970s, then a byword for poverty now a metaphor for gentrification. The streets were navigated by pubs, rough, cheap cafés and Eel, Pie and Mash shops. Often elaborately decorated with ornate Victorian tiling, many sold live eels in metal trays that faced out onto the street to the fascination (and sometimes horror) of passersby. Inside, warmth and comfort. Steam. Tea. Laughter. Families.

Now fewer in number, the shops are havens for what the East End once was – but this is no rosy description of the Cockney – that music hall, heart-of-gold caricature but an affectionate and serious look at what that culture and its people have evolved into. The Englishman and the Eel is not an encyclopaedic record of every shop. Rather, a document of the most interesting and significant ones to make a book that is a tribute to a timeless institution. For Stuart Freedman the eel and its decline is a metaphor of the cultural change that has enveloped the East End. What remains is a tenacious and rare creature – endangered – but surviving.


Arments Pie & Mash London - Customer

A photographer and writer, Stuart Freedman is based between London and New Delhi. He has, over more than two decades, covered stories from Albania to Zambia and his work has featured internationally in amongst others, Life, Geo, Time, Der Spiegel, Newsweek, The Sunday Times Magazine, Paris Match, Smithsonian and Condé Nast Traveller. His last book, the critically acclaimed The Palaces of Memory, looked at the Indian Coffee Houses, a co-operatively run network which stretches throughout the sub-continent.

Arments Pie & Mash London Bakehouse
This book has stunning photographs of our London Pie & Mash shops today and would make a wonderful gift for any pie and mash lover!  Signed copies of The Englishman and the Eel are available to Arments customers for the special price of  £ 25.00 (RRP £29)  at Stuart Freedman’s book signing in our shop on Saturday December 9th. Come and see Stuart between 1.30pm and 3.30pm. Alternatively copies can be purchased in our shop  over the counter or by telephone – please call Lorraine during opening hours on 0207 703 4974 to secure your copy.

Stuart Freeman was recently on the Robert Elms show…BBC Radion London.   If you missed it …it’s starts at at 1:08:39,  to listen click here.

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