One of Cubby's great interests in life is fish. Obviously. He not only enjoys catching and eating fish, but he--and by extension, me--spends many an hour with his fish reference books, looking at the various kinds and discussing with whoever is handy which fish may be edible.
Edibility is another great interest of his. Also obviously.
In his fish book is a whole page devoted to the lamprey eel. Lampreys are not technically eels, despite their name. They feed on fish by suctioning onto them and then eating them with little teeth. If you want guaranteed nightmares, have a look at a photo of a lamprey eel's mouth.
You're welcome. Feel free to e-mail me at 2 a.m. when you wake up sweating from a nightmare featuring that image.
Lampreys live in our lake, and for some reason, they have become something of a mystical thing with Cubby. He has been talking for some time about seeing one. And A., being the stellar kind of dad that he is, promised him that if they ever caught one, we could eat it. Because lamprey eels are, in fact, edible. A delicacy in Portugal, even. Though how they ever get that image of the eel's mouth out of their heads while they're eating it is beyond me.
Now I must mention that my parents are here for a brief visit, so yesterday afternoon my dad went down to the beach to fish with A. and Cubby. As A. was walking along the beach, he saw something thrashing in the water right next to shore. And damn it all if it wasn't a lamprey eel. He's never, ever seen one on the beach. They usually stay in deeper water. But there it was, like a nightmarish gift from the universe for Cubby. So A. grabbed it and put it in a handy bucket.
Did I mention lampreys will bite people? Of course they will. Because they are obviously demon spawn.
But A. isn't afraid of much, so he popped that thing into a bucket with his bare hands, where it promptly suctioned itself to the side of the bucket. Then they brought it into the living room of my house to show it to me and my mom.
I tolerated it for about two minutes, at which point Cubby started grabbing at the bucket and I told A. that it was going outside RIGHT NOW.
So he took it outside. And then he got on my laptop to look up recipes for lamprey eels. There aren't many (I CAN'T IMAGINE WHY), but he found one on food.com for lamprey stew with garlic mashed potatoes. There are no reviews for the recipe. And that is almost certainly because no one who has ever seen the recipe has tried it. If you read the directions for prepping the lampreys, you'll see why.
I know you're all busy people, but seriously. Take thirty seconds to click on that link and read the first of the directions. The last instruction in it says, "If you don't want crunchy lamprey, make sure the thick, bony cartilage comes out with the head." There is also mention made of removing a slimy coating.
Luckily, A. determined that it was too late in the day to prep it for eating. Also that it was probably too small to bother with. So instead he filled a quart jar with rubbing alcohol and put the lamprey in that. I mean, wouldn't you?
That jar is now sitting on Cubby's dresser. Which means that every time I go in his room, I am confronted by a pickled lamprey eel floating in a jar. And did I mention that we still have a pickled lamprey in a jar that A.'s dad made for him when he was a little boy? So we have a thirty-year-old specimen and a day-old specimen.
I don't know where I went so wrong in life to end up living in a house with not one, but TWO pickled lamprey eels in residence, but here I am.