|Trafalgar Tavern. © NMM|
The Ministerial Whitebait Dinner
A group of ministers sought to 'dine in a place of rest and of good repute'. Greenwich was chosen because of its convenience for London. They decided to dine on whitebait at the newly opened 'Trafalgar Tavern'.
These shoals of tiny fish were caught locally on the Thames. Within an hour after they were caught, they were deep fried in lard until crisp, then dressed with lemon juice and cayenne pepper. They were served with brown bread and washed down with iced champagne.
Word spread of the 'Trafalgar' and more and more politicians visited it. Until 1883, the whitebait dinner became an established annual tradition. Special barges brought ministers from Westminster to the 'Trafalgar', which was specially decorated for the occasion.
Whitebait are no longer found in the Thames. Although foreign whitebait is still served in the pub.