Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Eastbourne....and jellied eels!

Next Thursday, my wife and I, together with our eldest and his effervescent wife, our daughter and her still rather reserved boyfriend, are off to visit our second son in Eastbourne, where he has decided to settle down. This is our first family holiday in 9 years. The last time we had such an opportunity to go anywhere together was when we decided to visit relatives in Paris. That was in 2000…! Looks much farther back!

We have visited Eastbourne before and I never fail to enjoy my visits there. It is typically English with very mild weather compared to other parts of the UK, and is blessed with ‘fantastic country views, miles of fabulous beaches, world-class marina, restored Victorian pier and excellent sunshine record’.

Like everywhere else I guess, they have their own little customs and strange eating habits. On the way to Hastings, there is a small, very quaint seaside village resting under the shadows of a very high cliff. Over here, there are various small shops and restaurants serving what are locally known as ‘jellied eels’.

Last year, trying to look macho in front of my daughter’s boyfriend, who was travelling with us for the first time, I said I would take a cupful of these jellied eels. I’m not going to bother describing them…take a look at the picture instead. They are not exactly appetizing to look at and all that jelly or aspic wasn’t very inviting either. My son was obviously used to them because he had already devoured a cupful while I was still contemplating which part of the eel I was putting in my mouth first!

My daughter’s boyfriend was not exactly comfortable with them either. He was still gazing at his bowl and probably thinking of ways to get out to eating them. But just like me, he was stuck between a rock and a hard place…and there was no going back.

I closed my eyes and gulped two or three times....and just on the point of putting a spoonful of the stuff into my mouth, I spied the Tabasco sauce. Elated that I could at least dilute the taste of the jellied eels with the sauce, I grabbed the bottle, shook it a few times and let the sauce ooze down to cover the eels as if I was using ketchup!

If ever you decide to take jellied eels with an overdose of Tabasco…please don’t! The closest thing I can come to describing the moment that followed is recorded on a film by Fantozzi, when he put a sizzling meatball or something, in his mouth and his tongue was so burnt that it rolled down to his chest and had to dip it into a fountain close by to cool it…in the meantime, turning the fountain water into steam!!

In between bouts of laughter by my sympathising family, my daughter’s boyfriend was digging into his bowl and eating mouthful after mouthful. My daughter encouraged him by giving him her share too. One spoonful and it was enough for her!!

My eldest, who is visiting Eastbourne for the first time is determined to have a go at the jellied eels. I propose to have a lot of fun!!


  1. I am sure its going to be a great holiday


  2. Well that was a memorable moment, especially the Tabasco part =)I can still remember you dozing off in the car while gasping for some cold air to cool down your mouth, which we imagines was on fire thanks to mr.Tabasco hehe

    Well I’m not looking forward to the jellied eels this year, and neither is Myron; we are aiming for that small cup of shrimp like last time...until that sweet taste was ruined when everyone insisted I try at least 1 oyster. The reaction of the man behind the counter was spine chilling when he saw his precious oyster go down the garbage.

    Although the one thing I am looking forward to is Nick’s reaction once the eels touch his mouth.

    Only 3 days left till our family holiday =) Getting excited now! =)

    Thank you dad for everything you do for us. We truly appreciate it all =)

    Charmaine(the daughter) xxx

  3. Hey dad and all,

    Your words of encouragement are truly inspiring in so far as these deliciously looking jelly coated eels are concerned. Yet I am still determined to put on the macho veil and try these 'things' out.... and so does Kir. She specifically insisted that should she fail to swallow at least one she will refrain from any shoe shopping this holiday!! :-) ... (Now I guess it's time to make a head start and run!!)

    I guess these jellied eels are gonna make this holiday a memorable one.

    Love you all xxx

    Nick and Kir

  4. HeeHee great post Frans...from what everyone relates this will surely go down as a memorable family experience.
    Now I am thinking that Kir will come back home barefoot with having to run off to avoid having to taste the 'thingys' and then no shoe shopping too...Nick and Frans, make sure you take pics : )
    Happy Holidays everyone!