Pie and Mash down the Roman Road

First published 2018 (Two Roads)Shortlisted for the Historical Writers Association Gold Crown

Shortlisted for the Andre Simon Food Book Awards

Kelly’s Pie and Mash has been run by the same family on the Roman Road in Bow for nearly a hundred years; an East End institution and the still point of a turning world. Outside its windows the Roman Road has seen an extraordinary revolution – from women’s suffrage to wars and immigration. This is the story of the people – customers, suppliers, employees, owners – who passed through the shop. Through vivid tales of ordinary lives the book tells the extraordinary story of life in the oldest trading route in Britain, in the heart of the East End.


Despite – or perhaps because of – its status as the London meal, the iconic food of the capital’s working classes, the pie, like the Kelly family – like most Londoners – is an immigrant. Even the word pie is an import, derived from the old French word pica, or ‘magpie,’ presumably a reference to that bird’s habit of stuffing its nest with found objects. Like so much we now think of as part of the British scene (apples, carrots, cats, heated baths, leeks, peas, police, rabbits and stinging nettles), pies were first introduced into Britain by the Romans.


“Filled with hearty goodness and packed together with care, this book will go down a treat”
Evening Standard

“McGrath’s empathetic ability to inhabit vanished streets and catch authentic voices – a a point when you wonder how much longer they will be around – is rich and compelling”

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