We’ve been going a bit pie crazy here in recent days, what with our mouth-watering round-up of the best pies in London and the arrival of National Pie Week. We’re not ashamed: anything tasty that comes inside a crisp, golden crust makes us quiver with helpless greed. And whether we get it at a flamboyantly upscale place like Bob Bob Ricard or a gloriously old-fashioned chippie like the Golden Union Fish Bar, we’re happy.
But what about the original pie purveyors, the godfathers of crust: London’s pie and mash shops? These are the old-fashioned hardcore, serving essentially nothing except pie, mash, eel, and deep-green parsley ‘liquor’. We know that some people are still crazy about them, and meet up regularly at a favourite shop to sample the wares (and gab).
But we’ve done a survey of people in the Time Out office and found very few people who had recently eaten in a traditional pie and mash shop. Though one staffer did report of Castle’s in Camden Town: ‘It’s a bit of a family tradition, so whenever my mum’s in town we head down there. It’s packed more often than not. Last time we had to go to the Grand Union for a burger as the queue stretched way out the door and it was pissing it down. She was gutted.’ We don’t like to see any of London’s old institutions fall on hard times – not that this seems to be happening at Castle’s.
Are you among the fans of tradition? Do you continue to support your local pie-palace, or is it bye-bye to traditional pie? Answers on a liquor-smeared paper napkin, please. Or leave comments on our website, if that’s easier.
By Richard Ehrlich