Canada saves eel pie tradition for Diamond Jubilee
Published Saturday, May 5, 2012 6:48AM EDT
Canada has sent about a kilogram of lamprey eels to England where they will be baked in a traditional pie for Queen Elizabeth II.
For centuries in Britain, the city of Gloucester has marked important royal occasions by sending the monarch a gift of lamprey eel pie. But the lamprey is now an endangered species in England, meaning there would have been no eel pie for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, which is just weeks away.
In Canada, the lamprey eel is parasitic, having arrived in the Great Lakes nearly a century ago and sucked the life out of native fish species -- and the fishing industry -- ever since.
So the Great Lakes Fishery Commission was only too happy to oblige Gloucester's request for eel.
"We would prefer to send them truckloads of lamprey," commission spokesman Marc Gaden told the Detroit Free Press.
Gloucester presented the dish to the Queen for her coronation, but no one knows whether she actually tried it.
Whether the Queen will try the pie this year remains to be seen.
A traditional eel pie recipe from the 1861 volume of the Victorian guide "Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management":
INGREDIENTS -- 1 lb. of eels, a little chopped parsley, 1 shalot; grated nutmeg; pepper and salt to taste; the juice of 1/2 a lemon, small quantity of forcemeat, 1/4 pint of béchamel; puff paste.
Mode. -- Skin and wash the eels, cut them into pieces 2 inches long, and line the bottom of the pie-dish with forcemeat. Put in the eels, and sprinkle them with the parsley, shalots, nutmeg, seasoning, and lemon-juice, and cover with puff-paste. Bake for 1 hour, or rather more; make the béchamel hot, and pour it into the pie.
Time. -- Rather more than 1 hour.
Seasonable from August to March.