I saw something floating in the marina a few days ago, and at first thought it was a fat tendril from the lily pads that are slowly coming to the surface.
It was a dead eel, and as conversation at the BBQ on Saturday had mentioned that boaters were finding them in their engine bays, I thought one of the guys on our side had found one in his and tossed it overboard.
This was not the case either, as I saw him tonight and he said it was the first time he’d seen it.
This took me back a few years to LBH (Life Before Hubby) when the Partner brought home a bucket of eels that had been freshly caught that morning. He told me I could cook them up and jelly them. I said I would have a go, provided he prepared them for me.
I have never liked the thought of eating eels, jellied or otherwise, neither do I like cockles or mussels, but he wanted them cooked, so cook them I did.
All except one, which still happened to be alive in the bottom of the bucket.
Naturally the boys didn’t want it to go in the pot with the rest, and so an old baby bath was retrieved from the shed, filled with water and ‘Eric’ had a new home.
Note: what is it about men and the name Eric?
Actually, we didn’t know if it was male or female, so it was referred to as Eric-a Eel.
The thing was, it kept escaping from the bath and slithering over the shed floor, so after a couple of days I suggested to the boys that it wasn’t fair to keep it in such unnatural surroundings, I had no idea what to feed it and perhaps we should let it go.
About five miles down the road was a small village which had a ford running across the road at high water. It was decided to let Eric-a go there so that he could swim downstream and find some new friends to play with.
The youngest boy didn’t want to come for the Grand Release, but the eldest (a rather sensitive child and definitely the better of the two) wanted to say goodbye and sat with the bucket carrying Eric-a on his lap for the journey.
I let him release it in his own time, and it was touching the way he talked to the eel, telling it to be careful not to get caught again, and asked it not to forget him.
Then gently he laid the bucket sideways in the water so that Eric-a could swim out and go on his way. Through tears he looked at me and said
‘He’ll be alright, won’t he?’ to which I chokingly replied ‘Of course,’ and we came home.
That memory is still with me, though it is over thirty years ago.
Now you are probably wondering how my effort at jellied eels went.
I didn’t eat any, and neither did the boys. The dogs turned their noses up too, and the house stank for a week.
Partner had them for his dinner that night, and in his sandwiches for three days.
I have no idea if I’d done a professional job, and the pictures I found on the internet for jellied eels looked liked vomit on a plate, so here’s a more appetising one: