Esoteric London

No. 268: Cowcross Street, EC1

Posted in Eating places, Food, Pubs, The Thames and its Tributaries by esotericlondon on March 9, 2011

Pizza Express, Cowcross Street, Clerkenwell, London, EC1. Photo © Roger Dean 2011

Curiosities of London – John Timbs, 1867:

To the large taverns at Blackwall and Greenwich gourmets flock to eat whitebait, a delicious little fish caught in the Reach, and directly netted out of the river into the frying pan. They appear about the end of March or early in April, and are taken every flood-tide until September. Whitebait are caught by a net in a wooden frame, the hose having a very small mesh. The boat is moored in the tideway, and the net fixed to its side, when the tail of the hose, swimming loose, is from time to time handed in to the boat, the end untied, and its contents shaken out. Whitebait were thought to be the young of the shad, and were named from their being used as bait in fishing for whitings. By aid of comparative anatomy, Mr. Yarrell, however, proved whitebait to be a distinct species, Clupea alba.

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  1. Jo Hall said, on March 13, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Lovely link – whitebait suppers featured in so many Victorian novels – in Our Mutual Friend Bella Wilfter and Mr Boffin have a nice day out in Greenwich – probably the Ship or the Trafalgar Tavern…

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