A lamprey is a jawless fish that sports a sucker full of teeth for a mouth. Many lamprey species will latch onto another fish and feed on its blood. While that may seem thoroughly unpleasant, word is that they are pretty tasty themselves. In the Middle Ages, lamprey was a dish restricted to the rich, or even royalty, as Portuguese King João made the fishing of lampreys without permission illegal with a penalty of death. The fish was so prestigious, those who couldn’t indulge in lamprey made a not-so-reasonable facsimile by creating a dessert shaped like a lamprey made of sugar and eggs. This is lampreia de ovos, a recipe that survives today as a Christmas tradition in Portugal.
Lampreia de ovos was more available than the fish, but it was still expensive due to the number of eggs and the expertise required to make it. Today you can buy mass-produced lampreia de ovos, but those that are hand-made by experienced chefs are coveted and expensive. That said, if you think your cooking skills are up to it, you can find a recipe at Atlas Obscura, along with the history of lampreia de ovos.
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