Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

pike Esox lucius, a freshwater fish of circumpolar distribution in the northern hemisphere. A voracious carnivore, it lives among the marginal vegetation of lowland rivers and lakes and attains a considerable size; females, which grow larger than males, may reach 1.5 m (60") and a weight of around 35 kg (84 lb) in continental Europe. The body is greenish-brown with speckles or curved lines of lighter green.

The pike is prized as a game fish—the larger the better—and as food, when those of medium size are preferred. A pleasant passage in A Description of the River Thames etc. (1758) tells us that:

The great Lord Bacon, in his History of Life and Death, observes the Pike to be the longest lived of any of the fresh Water Fish, and yet he computes his Age not to be usually above Forty Years; others think it not to be above Ten Years. It is observed, that the very old and great Pike have in them more of Grandeur than Goodness; the smaller, especially the middle sized, being esteemed the best meat, and the thicker, the firmer is the Flesh.