King Charles Breaks 800 Years Of Tradition With Coronation Pie

With the grand culinary preparations for King Charles III's coronation, anglophile bakers around the world have obsessively been recreating their own version of coronation pie or coronation quiche. Though most mock coronation pies are made with chicken, the protein of old tradition was typically the lamprey — one of the least photogenic animals on the planet. The lamprey, also known as the vampire fish, has a mouth that looks like a small-scale version of the sandpit monster from "Star Wars." It uses its ragged circle of teeth to latch on and suck the blood of various aquatic animals. 

If you find these parasitic, jaw-less fish too horrifying to make a meal of, know that lamprey pie has been a coronation delicacy for over 800 years, enduring from Queen Elizabeth I to Queen Elizabeth II. But, like the way of un-air-conditioned carriages, lamprey pie has been traded for a more modern creation — a pork pie. Why the change-up? King Charles has long been involved in conservation efforts and though the eel-like lamprey was once plentiful, it has since become endangered in England. 

Lord-Lieutenant Edward Gillespie commented after the ceremony was held that presented the pie to the king's representative in Gloucester, England, "It would be inappropriate in these times to present lampreys to anybody," per The New York Times. Perhaps, with this scarcity in mind, the pastry chefs were asked to swap pork for lamprey.

A radical lack of lamprey pie

While it may feel like an egregious departure from time-honored tradition, this swap is a perfect reflection of King Charles' environmentalist philosophy. He has long spoken against over-fishing, abstaining from meat and fish at least two times a week to do his part to alleviate stress on the environment. In fact, the King's official coronation recipe was a vegetarian quiche enriched with fava beans and cheese. Though not exactly vegetarian, pork is certainly more sustainable and as lamprey has a flavor and texture more akin to slow-cooked beef than seafood, pork felt more of a taste-appropriate swap. 

Still, protein swaps aside, the pork pie was decorated with three lamprey-shaped pastry decorations in a nod toward its historical origins. One fell off prior to the serving, but the crowd seemed not to mind. Some Gloucester officials hope that with King Charles focusing on sustainability, one day the lamprey can make a resurgence and return to the menus of England. Until then, pork seems a tasty enough alternative for the coronation revelers.