Wednesday, February 4, 2009
The small, old storefront of Manzes Pie and Mash Shop on Tower Bridge Road (the oldest eel and pie shop in London, maybe anywhere) had a line of locals out of the door on a Saturday afternoon. Inside, there’s the choice of potpie, mash, or jellied eels. (But I didn’t see any eels; the pie and mash are right up front and being dished out as you order them.) I asked what was in the pie: beef. Um, no thanks. But there’s a vegetarian option! All right—one pie plus mash (although mash really seems like overkill if you’re eating a carby, crusty potpie, but whatever). My vegetarian potpie looked exactly like Dan’s beef pie, but I detected no hint of beef, so I was satisfied. I'd expected carrots, potatoes, etc., but it turns out to be soy mince in a brown sauce, manipulated to look as much like beef as possible. It’s quite good, actually, though I could have done without the parsley gravy (or “liquor”). I tasted but didn’t eat the mash, which was just a big slathering of potatoes that could have used some butter or salt and pepper. (There are condiments, such as mustard powder, salt, vinegar, on the tables.) Even so, this was a nice change-of-pace place to duck into on a cold winter’s afternoon, and as we were eating, I could imagine that this would have been our regular fare had we moved to London 20 years ago, whereas today it’s just a novelty (for us, at least; there seemed to be plenty of people there for whom this was not a lark). Maybe you have to be truly English to get excited about a soy mince potpie overwhelmed by mashed potatoes on a regular basis.
In the same way that you need to have lived in New York for a while to find this Lego artwork depicting life in that city to be hilarious. I couldn't stop smiling.