There is also the pike. These, as Aristotle reports, are a solitary and carnivorous fish; and they have a bony [p. 488] tongue, adhering to the mouth, and a triangular heart. But, in the fifth book of his Parts of Animals, he says that they bring forth their young, like the cestres and chrysophryes do, chiefly in those places where rivers fall into the sea; and they bring forth in winter, and they also bring forth twice in the season. But Icesius says that the pike is very juicy, and not very nutritious; and that it is also not very easily secreted; but for delicacy of flavour it is accounted the very first of fish. And this fish has his name, λάβραξ, from his voracity (λαβρότης). It is said, also, that in shrewdness he is superior to other fish, being very ingenious at devising means to save himself; on which account, Aristophanes the comic poet says—
The pike, the wisest of all fish that swim.And Alcæus the lyric poet says that he swims very high in the water. But the wise Archestratus says—
Take the large cestris cephalus from Gæson,
When you do come to fair Miletus' city.
Take too the pike, the offspring of the gods.
For in those waters both these fish are best.
Such is the natural character of the place.
But there are many places where they grow
More fat and large; in famous Calydon,
And in the opulent Ambracia,
And at the Bolbe lake; but there they want
The fragrant fat which here surrounds their belly;
Nor have they such a pungent taste, my friend.
Those which I speak of are most admirable.
Take them and roast them without scaling them,
Soften with salt, and serve them up with brine.
And let no Syracusan, no Italian
Break in upon you while you dress this dish:
For they have no idea of dressing fish,
But spoil them all by seasoning them with cheese,
By sprinkling them with too much vinegar,
And strongly scented assafœtida.
They are good cooks enough to dress the vile
Fish which they take while clinging to the rocks;
And there are many kinds of season'd dishes
Which they can dress quite well enough; but they
Have no idea of dressing good fish plain.