Pilgrim Seasonings

Plymouth Colony Foodways: Notes and Recipes from a 17th Century Kitchen

Other fish (pies) in the sea

August 10th, 2013 by KM Wall

There are several sorts of fish that are mentioned over and over again in recipes.










Oops – not THAT mullet….

Mullet - Mugil cephalus

Mullet – Mugil cephalus – that’s right – a Mugil




and then there’s the

Bace a/ka/a Bass

Bass, Striped

Bass, Striped

And also


Lamprey - parts labeled

Lamprey – parts labeled

That right, lamprey.



Henry I of England was said to have died from a surfeit of lampreys .

Henry I - 17th century portrait.....a little after the fact

Henry I – 17th century portrait…..a little after the fact, but this is how 17th century people ‘saw’ him

Queen Elizabeth II had a coronation pie made of lampreys for her in 1953.


Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II - ceremony first, then food

Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II – ceremony first, then food

I’m still stuck on the part where lampreys skeeve me out.

another lamprey

another lamprey

Lamprey mouth...this is the skeevey part

Lamprey mouth…this is the skeevey part

If the mouth doesn't get you, this might - lamprey in action!

If the mouth doesn’t get you, this might – lamprey in action!

And now for some recipes……thanks to Robert May The Accomplist Cook.

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 348 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.

To bake a Lampry otherways with an Eel.

Flay it, splat it, and take out the garbidg, then have a good fat eel, flay it, draw it, and bone it, wipe them dry from the slime, and season them with pepper, salt, and nutmeg, cut them in equal pieces as may conveniently lye in a square or round pye, lay butter in the bottom, and three or four good whole onions, then lay a layer of eels over the butter, and on that lay a lampry, then another of eel, thus do till the pye be full, and on the top of all put some whole cloves and butter, close it up and bake it being basted over with saffron water, yolks of eggs, and beer, and being baked and cold, fill it up with beaten butter. Make your pies according to these forms.

pot pot

To bake a Lampry in the Italian Fashion to eat hot.

Flay it, and season it with nutmeg, pepper, salt, cinamon, and ginger, fill the pie either with Lampry cut in pieces or whole, put to it raisins, currans, prunes, dryed cherries, dates, and butter, close it up, and bake it, being baked liquor it with strained almonds, grape verjuyce, sugar, sweet herbs chop’t and boil’d all together, serve it 349 with juyce of orange, white wine, cinamon, and the blood of the lampry, and ice it, thus you may also do lampurns baked for hot.

To bake a Lampry otherways in Patty-pan or dish.

Take a lampry, roast it in pieces, being drawn and flayed, baste it with butter, and being roasted and cold, put it into a dish with paste or puff paste; put butter to it, being first seasoned with pepper, nutmeg, cinamon, ginger, and salt, seasoned lightly, some sweet herbs chopped, grated bisket bread, currans, dates, or slic’t lemon, close it up and bake it, being baked liquor it with butter, white-wine, or sack, and sugar.



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2 Responses to “Other fish (pies) in the sea”

  1. Gary Allen says:

    The pilgrims might have had fond memories of (and recipes for) tench and bream, but they didn’t catch any of them here. We have no tench, and our “bream” are members of the sunfish family, while Old World bream are in the same family as carp and true minnows.

    The word “bream,” but not the fish, came over from Europe, just as “robins” did.

    • KM Wall says:

      Bream are mentioned Thomas Morton’s 1637 New English Canaan to John Josselyn’s New-englands rarities of 1672. Josselyn lists 3 – River Bream, Sea Bream and Cud Bream. Sometimes I can just report ‘em. Was it mistaken identity? Wishful thinking? Rumor and innuendo? A big, deep pool of stupid?
      It’s not just the food, it’s the ways….

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