“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.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sunday seafood teas in Dagenham, part 2

The fishman showed up regular as clockwork. A few honks of the horn was all it took to attract his regular customers. I always went out with Lew, to help him make his selection. The fishmonger’s thick cheeks, hands, and forearms were lobster-red. He always wore a floppy green jersey and a bright, starched white apron. The crustaceans were never weighed out, but rather scooped up in pint and half-pint tin mugs. Mum always requested pinky red prawns.
“Knock ‘em down,” Lew would say in his gravelly growl, and the fishmonger would reluctantly bash the tin mug on his makeshift counter, bending a sea whisker or two but allowing a little room for a few more prawns. The cockles were like very tiny clams and, along with winkles, were my favorites. Winkles, those very tiny black sea snails, were tasty but required patience and a little skill. Needles or hat pins would be distributed with saucers filled with vinegar and pepper. Using a needle, I would flip off the winkle cap then twist inside the shell and pull out a tiny crustacean. I preferred ‘winkling’ out a whole bunch at a time and making a sandwich.
“We didn’t always get prawns,” said Jessie, half remembering.
“No, WE didn’t.” Lew cast a knowing smile in my direction.


Anonymous said...

It sounds like fun, eating winkles. Like an art or something. Like eating pomegranates....

wordsareforwriting said...

Thanks for you comment about my blog. The photos are from Valencia in Spain where I live.

I really like your blog. How long are planning to stay in England for?

The Prodigal Tourist said...

We're not in England now, these events happened during our yearly one-week visits, over several years. So glad you like the blog--come again!