An unwanted and invasive species in Michigan turns out to be a royal delicacy across the pond!
After Queen Elizabeth II's passing, there is much tradition and history to consider when planning the coronation of a new royal. One of those traditions just so happens to involve what lurks at the bottom of the Great Lakes: the Sea Lamprey.
The eel-like fish is often referred to as the "vampire fish"-- and with good reason! If you're unfamiliar with the sea lamprey, it looks like something alien out of a horror movie. Its circular, suction-like mouth is full of sharp looking teeth and is followed by a long, winding tail. I think "vampire eel" more accurately describes it:
Unwanted in the Mitten
Although the baking of these frightening fish into pies is a longtime tradition in the United Kingdom, the sea lamprey is highly undesirable and unwanted here in the Mitten. Though it is native to places like Vermont and New York, the species is considered an invasive pest in the Great Lakes as it attacks the trout, whitefish, and herring that are native to our lakes.
Another reason we Michiganders despise the sea lamprey in particular is because attempts to eliminate the lamprey allowed the alewife population to boom, yet another invasive species in our Great Lakes. So who knew this "invasive pest" was considered a royal delicacy?
Fit For a King
When served in the UK, sea lamprey is coated in a syrup-like mixture of spices and wine and then baked into a pie. According to What's Cooking America, the royals have been eating sea lamprey pie since the year 1135. King Henry I was said to have died from eating too many lampreys!
Lamprey Via the Royal Mail
Because many of the rivers are dammed up and cannot spawn easily, sea lamprey are a protected species in the UK. That's why The Great Lakes Fishery Commission has sent numerous lamprey deliveries across the pond over the years!
Sea lamprey was served at Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee, 60th anniversary, and again on her 90th birthday. With the upcoming coronation of King Charles III deputy executive secretary of the fishery commission Marc Gaden tells Spartan Newsroom,
We capture them and send them over to Gloucester, England, so that they can continue their long tradition...With the coronation of King Charles III coming up, I can only assume I’m going to be sending a few more over there
Would YOU be brave enough to try a bite of sea lamprey pie?