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Lampreys or Lamper-Eels


Lampreys (Petromyzon), sometimes known as 'nine eyes' because their seven extra eye-like gill slits, are primitive eel-like river animals. They live by attaching themselves to fish and sucking nourishment from them.

Image: Unknown source

Young lampreys are known as 'prid' or 'lamperts'. Lampreys taste much meatier than most true fish and were therefore highly prized by the aristocracy as a food for fasting days. They are rarely eaten now, but there is some mention that the Queen's coronation pie of 1953 contained lampreys. Henry I, the third son of William the Conqueror, died in 1135 from "a surfeit of lampreys".

lampreys have a particular association with Worcester, and with early forms of Worcester Sauce

The accounts of Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire show that in February 1605, Lord Berkeley ordered a lamprey pie to be baked with wine and spices, the pie opened, the meat cut into gobbets, and served on bread.

Original Receipt in 'The Accomplisht Cook' by Robert May, 1660 (Robert May 1660);

To bake a Lampry.
Draw it, and split the back on the inside from the mouth to the end of the tail, take out the string in the back, flay her and truss her round, parboil it and season it with nutmeg, pepper, and salt, put some butter in the bottom of the pie, and lay on the lampry with two or three good big onions, a few whole cloves and butter, close it up and baste it over with yolks of eggs, and beer or saffron water, bake it, and being baked, fill it up with clarified butter, stop it up with butter in the vent hole, and put in some claret wine, but that will not keep long.

Gloucester Royal Pie
Red Herring
Worcester Lampreys
Worcestershire Potted Lamperns

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