Enemies of invasive species have been advocating for a diabolical solution to doing away with unwanted species: Eat them! And while most people are not down with eating sautéed iguana or lionfish ceviche, on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee, Queen Elizabeth II will be honored with a gift of lamprey pie — a dish made from a parasitic eel that’s invaded the Great Lakes.
Lampreys — which look like eels, suck the blood of other fish, and have a single nostril on top of their heads — used to thrive in the River Severn, near Gloucester. So naturally, it’s the city’s tradition to send the king or queen lamprey pies on special occasions. King Henry I liked the dish so much he supposedly died after overindulging in lamprey-eating in 1135.
In recent years, though, lampreys have become scarce in the places where they once thrived, like Gloucester and the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia River. Instead, they’ve been thriving in the Great Lakes, after invading and killing off large swaths of valuable fish there. The Gloucester chefs actually had to import lampreys from the Great Lakes, where they’re happy to be rid of the things.
The Queen’s going to receive the biggest pile of presents ever amassed in honor of her 60 years of rule, so there’s no guarantee she’ll dig into the pie. But we hope she’ll take at least one symbolic bite, inspiring a nation to start rethinking the culinary potential of invasive species and giving hope to invasivores everywhere.