Saturday, May 28, 2005

Animal of the Week May 28, 2005 -- I'll have a surfeit thanks waiter

Hello One and All,
Sorry for the delay, but animal of the week takes bank holidays too. This week's animal is Lampetra fluviatilis (river lampreys). These aquatic vertebrates are not true fish, neither are their closest relatives hagfish. Rather, hagfish and lampreys are agnathans (without jaws) and represent an ancient lineage that existed before and possibly gave rise to jawed fish and all other animals with backbones, including you and me. River lampreys are found throughout Europe where they parasitise jawed fish using their round mouths with many sharp hooks to bore into the flesh of their hosts from where they suck the blood. Although they damage fishery fish they can be eaten themselves, apparently the flesh is very meaty and was thus favoured on religious fasting days when fish could be eaten. Indeed, this is the first animal of the week to have been responsible for the death of an English King -- Henry I, youngest son of William the Conqueror and all round good king, died from a "surfeit of lampreys" in Normandy (France) in 1135. If you can get hold of them and you fancy eating river lampreys without precipitating a civil war, try the recipe below but eat in moderation.

Lamprey au Sang
Lamprey Blood
Vegetables:Onions, Carrots,Leeks
Garlic & Bouquet Garni
Red Wine
Bleed Lamprey and keep blood aside to flavour sauce. Scald fish and remove skin Line a buttered pan with the vegetables, garlic and bouquet garni. Add lamprey and enough red wine to cover fish, boil for 12 minutes. Cook slices of leek with bacon in a buttered pan. Drain lamprey and add to pan alternating with the leek. Make a roux and moisten it with lamprey juices, pour back over fish. Simmer gently until fish is cooked. Arrange fish and vegetables on a dish. Add the reserved blood to the sauce and pour over dish Serve with fried bread.


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