Saturday, September 15, 2018

Thoughts on tinned sardines

After three years of blank space here, I thought I’d reflect on something more recently near-and-dear to my heart – tinned sardines. There have, so far, been very interesting reactions when I either discuss sardines or crack open a tin (at work for instance):

“What is that!?”

“Sardines are so oily!”

And possibly my favourite…

“Are you an 80 year old man?” (Side note – I absolutely am in spirit.)

Having never eaten any sort of sardine in my life, did I just randomly pick up a tin? No. The influence comes via my roommate and long time friend, Rachel. When I was in Paris in 2015, she asked that I bring her back a tin of sardines. I trust Rachel’s food instincts and knowledge more than anyone I know, so naturally I also picked up one for myself.

Two years later, in a hangry moment, I found them. Even though the situation may sound sad, I can assure you it wasn’t. Along with some very good toasted bread, a generous swath of butter, parsley, and a squeeze of lemon, those sardines were a small, much appreciated luxury. Further, the plate was made up of several key factors that contribute to my decisions about what to “cook” – fast, inexpensive, made up of fewer than five ingredients. Perfect.

Now, I’ve since discovered that all sardines are not the delicate Breton type I first encountered. What I’ve come across in Edmonton - in the Italian Centre’s section of tinned fish - are varieties from Spain, Italy, and Portugal. Since sampling a few of the brands (and also boneless, skinless, different oils, etc.), my preference is the skinless and boneless variety from Sabor do Mar. They are from Portugal, packed in sunflower oil (not olive, but c'est la vie) and have the added benefit of being sustainably fished. If anyone has a line on the Matiz brand here in Edmonton, do let me know.

Rachel recently traveled to Toronto and spent too much money on “luxury” sardines and mackerel (also, very good French butter). I came home one evening in August to a thoughtful table of tinned fish, four varieties of butter, a generous salad, and a million condiments (no exaggeration).

So there you have it. A small glimpse at the life of a 30-year-old woman from Edmonton, happily enjoying sardines on toast at least one evening a week. Next up, some ramblings regarding soft scrambled eggs.

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