[French] plural pibales

Baby eels. Glass eels or elvers from Brittany and Nantais, usually deep-fried. These are becoming increasingly scarce on the French Atlantic coast and the price has risen correspondingly high. They are the spawn of eels which travel to Europe from the Sargasso Sea, returning to rivers where they themselves were spawned. As with eel fisheries elsewhere, the elver populations are declining because of changes in irrigation practices, pollution and use of chemicals and pesticides used by farmers. They are highly sought after in both Europe and Asia for their aphrodisiac qualities and for their taste although, strangely, the Chinese still buy them for raising to adulthood and selling on to the Japanese. The price in the 1960s was around £2.40 a kilo and now, in 2005, is around £600 per kilo.

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