“Half memoir, half travel, A Yank Back to England...is an absolutely wonderful book, not only about going home again but also about love and family and tradition and the passage of the years.”
—Michael Dirda, Pulitzer Prize-winning literary critic (Washington
To see the entire quote, click here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sunday seafood teas in Dagenham, part 1

“Remember the teas we had on Sunday, Mum?”
“No, I can’t say I do,” said Jessie, tearing at a slice of bread.
“Of course you do,” scolded Lew. He went on to explain, mainly for Frances’ benefit, what afternoon Sunday tea was like.
“The fish man showed up, on Sunday. He sold prawns and winkles and cockles, welks. Never much liked welks. Mum got the prawns, I got the winkles, and Denis had the cockles. Lots of vinegar and pepper, and bread and butter. Lovely.” He grinned at the memory and I recalled it myself.
Seafood was a regular Sunday afternoon treat in Dagenham. Shrimp, tiny, tiny crustaceans, heads and tails pinched between forefinger and thumbs, a slight crunch like biting into the sea. Cockles, chewy and soft and tasting mostly of the vinegar and pepper they were dunked in. The seafood was sold from the back of a van that dripped with briny ice water and smelled of the sea.


Anonymous said...

'The seafood was sold from the back of a van that dripped with briny ice water and smelled of the sea.'
I love that. It sounds so lovely and nostalgic to me for some reason. Awesome writing.

The Prodigal Tourist said...

Thank you so much.

aardvarkpest said...

I remember these too. My Dad was from Dagenham. I'm a Rainham girl myself.

atomicliving said...

I love seafood, tho ours is often lobsters boiled, cobbed corn, mussels steamed in white wine, little necks steamed upon beds of seaweed and oysters raw. The bloated hush and glazed stares around the table littered with carcases and conspicuously congealed ramikens rimmed in butter. The rare but delightful cool summer augusts nights sandytoed upon beaches with holes dug and crustaceans placed among seaweed and sand as the natives once taught our forebears. Pink skys shot with the rising smoke, madras proudly flashed about like clan colors, sandy boat shoes, the clang of the halyard on the mast.