ELVERS are back on sale at a Gloucester fishmonger for the first time in more than 30 years.
This year’s bumper catch of the baby eels in the River Severn means there are more than enough to go around, so Malcolm Smith of MR Smith Fish Merchants is selling them in the city.
“The last time I sold them was in 1979 when I sold 85kg in two hours,” said Mr Smith, whose stall is in the covered Eastgate Market.
“That was the last good day, until now.”
Priced at £9.98 per pound or £21.90 per kilo, today his entire stock, caught from the banks of the Severn, had sold by noon.
“People are buying them for old time’s sake, or for their parents - there is a whole generation of people who have missed the experience of eating elvers,” he said.
For the uninitiated, he suggests cooking them in the Gloucester way.
“They should be scolded in hot water first - that kills them, then bacon should be fried in a pan and removed,” he said.
“Then the elvers should be fried for about a minute in the bacon fat before breaking a raw egg in to them.”
The result tastes like ‘fishy spaghetti’, he said.
“The Spanish do them in olive oil with garlic and chillis,” he said.
Severn and Wye Smokery in Chaxhill has been selling elvers this week, after fishermen, Over-based UK Glass Eels and the Environment Agency reported huge numbers returning up the Severn.
It’s not known why elvers have arrived in such high numbers this year, but it’s believed higher flows of fresh water into the sea can draw them in on their journey from the Sargasso Sea.