Sunday, April 4, 2010

Old Mother Hubbard


Do you eat sardines?

Do you always keep one or two cans of sardines in the cupboard...just in case?

I mean...just in case you feel the urge for a fishy snack or want to top the salad or pasta with something sharp and oily and healthy?

I keep tins of tuna and salmon in the cupboard for exactly these occasions.

They are cheap and heart-smart and simple and have long shelf lives.

When I add tuna or salmon to a salad or pasta - as I will tonight (papardelle with green beans, peppers, tomatoes and fish) - I mix and mash the fish first in a bowl with Dijon mustard.

[Sidebar - Did you know that Dijon mustard last year left the town of Dijon for some obscure economical reasons and moved down the road to one of those French hyphenated places that would be impossible to put on a small jar? Like, Surneims-aux-Plaxeville...or something like that.]

Back to sardines.

The sardine has fallen on hard times.

Or at least, sardine production in the Americas has fallen on hard times.

In Prospect Harbour, Maine, it is an endgame for sure.

The NY Times headline
is conclusive: Last Sardine Cannery in the U.S. Is Clattering Out.

If you Google "Canadian fish canneries," you get 140,000 responses in 0.37 seconds, which sounds fishy to me and gives me a nosebleed.

But how many are sardines I cannot guess.

You certainly don't see sardines on restaurant menus, do you?

Well, you do in Venice, where there is a famous and delicious local dish of sardines and raisins.

Confession.

Among my happy tins of salmon and tuna, awaiting their fate atop the next pasta or salad or pasta salad, are very few and very occasional tins of sardines.

I guess that is one of the few signs that I haven't totally yet succumbed to senility and toast and tea.

Soon enough, I know.

6 comments:

Gavin said...

As one of your greatest fins.....I rate this post on a scale of 1 to 10.....I'll give it a 10. I love sardines oily in the morning.

Anonymous said...

Sardines are now an endangered species because factory trawlers are 'scooping. them up faster than they can reproduce. What for? To feed the fish farmers captive net fish. Four pounds of fish meal to raise one pound of Salmon. Let see now a twenty pound salmon equals .......... Let's also figure out how soon the seas and oceans will be bare of commercial fisheries. Stock up now so the cupboard will not be bare when the urge comes for a sardine sandwich. I can even remember in the late 40's and 50's when trucks hauling sardines from the Lulu Island canneries would turn the corner of Marine Drive and Main Street would not even bother to stop to pick up dozens of boxes of sardines would fall off into the ditch during the canning season. Now the family had a really really nice larder full of canned fish. Would never happen today because the fish and the canneries are gone. Burgess

Anonymous said...

I too always have tuna and salmon on hand and I know sardines are very good for one's health - but David, I just can't eat them. I enjoy most foods and am not fussy... Do you, or anyone have a recipe, ideas, etc. for something to make them more palatable - lessen that strong taste?

Would appreciate it. Also, what brand, etc. do you purchase?

June

David Berner said...

Hi June,

I can't remember the brand names, but they all seem very similar to me.

As for drowning the taste a bit, the usual strategies are tomato sauce or simply putting the little things on toast with lots of butter or marg...

Buon appetito!

Anonymous said...

And what about the eulachon?

This once-prolific local fish is tasty, nutritious, and in the event of a power outage, you can use them as candles!

They're especially good when breaded and fried, with a little sauce of your own choosing.

Anonymous said...

I'm just now catching up and found my sardine question in "older posts" - Yikes, was I ever behind in showing up to catch up...

Hi! Thanks David. I have tried the tomato sauce ones and didn't care for them, but I have since seen mention (in a club I belong to) where a fellow said he was going to have mashed sardines with Dijon and Mayonaisse - Well, with the light mayo that might work? I will give it a try - on toast.

By the way, was that your house back there? I would love to live in a house like that - with trees, shrubs, etc. Those peeps don't know what they're missing. Trees = shade, birds, nests and more. I love trees. Just sayin'

June