History & Culture

" London . . .  steams and teems with eels alive and stewed; turn where you will and 'hot eels' are everywhere smoking away, with many a fragrant condiment at hand to make what is itself palatable yet more savoury"

— Reverend David Badham, Victorian Curate

Eel are highly esteemed as a delicacy all over the world. France, China, Belgium, Netherlands, Russia, Poland, Scandinavia, Japan, Baltic States, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and many more have a long history and cultural associations with the catching, cooking and consuming of eel. 

There are many records of the ancient Romans and Greeks revering eel with Aristotle being known to have studied the fish. It is said that eel was eaten at great feasts including;

  • Guests were served as many as 6000 eel at various celebrations of Julius Caesars victories. 

  • Henry III is said to have served 15,000 eel when he celebrated St Edwards Day in October 1257

  • Bishop Hales of Coventry & Lichfield's Feast of the Assumptions in 1461 was said to have served eel

  • Eel is shown on the table in the great painting, The Last Supper, by Leonardo da Vinci

In Italy, eel, is a traditional Christmas Eve treat. Mr Badham, a Victorian curate, wrote of the Neopolitan fish markets on Christmas Eve. He noted that "every man, woman and child carries home eels for breakfast, dinner and supper".

In Japan eel is a massively popular delicacy where demand often outweighs supply. Eel is recorded as having been eaten in Japan for at least 1300 years and the favoured style of preparing eel, Kabayaki, dates back to the thirteenth century. Japan even has a day dedicated to eating eel called ox's day! 

New Zealand Maori also have a long history with Tuna (maori word for eel) with it being a staple of their diet for hundreds of years.