Whelk stall

Posted by TheFallen on April 01, 2003

In Reply to: Whelk stall posted by S. on April 01, 2003

: What is a "whelk stall"?

A stall in this sense is a small booth or stand from which one does trade (as in market stall). A whelk stall is therefore one that sells whelks, a whelk being some unfortunate marine mollusc that's used as a foodstuff in Europe. They're a traditional feature in the UK, and whelk stalls can be found here to this day in the UK, mainly in seaside towns. I have no idea how the whelks they sell are prepared for eating, but having tried one once, I can confirm that they taste like gritty bits of soft rubber pickled in strong vinegar. A whelk stall is also liable to offer cockles and mussels for sale, and maybe prawns and jellied eels as well.

Figuratively a whelk stall can also mean a very small and humble commercial enterprise that therefore should be extremely simple to operate and run - there's a dismissive British expression "he's not even fit to run a whelk stall" that's frequently used to this day. This seems allegedly to have been coined by Winston Churchill who, when attacking the opposition during a Parliamentiary debate, stated that they "were not fit to manage a whelk stall".