Yes, Sardines

6 May

Photo by Sue Alex on Flickr, "nom nom" noises by me.

The Mister and I love to frequent restaurants where people love food and love preparing it.  A few years ago I was on a Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives kick.  Though we’d feel somewhat overwhelmed by the number of highly-caloric food options Guy picked, we enjoyed seeing people who loved food doing their thing.  I saw a pattern.  Many of the best cooks had picked it up from a relative, a cookbook, or just a need to eat something the way that they liked it.  They had thought of details in the preparation that would only occur to someone who sat up at nights wondering if corn meal would be good on a pizza crust.  (It is, it so totally is.)

When traveling it’s good to seek out these people and ask for their best dish.  Dad has always liked to walk into a restaurant and ask what their special is, even if that “restaurant” is McDonald’s.  It makes sense though.  What’s on special is typically what is fresh.  Dad’s other trick was to ask the wait staff what they liked and just order that, no questions asked.  Let them feed you what they are really proud of and then lean back and rub your belly in contentment. 

This does require that you go to places where people care.  The more off the beaten path, the better.  If mom and pop are running the place with junior working the tables they are going to be serving food they enjoy to locals.  They don’t have the time or resources to see if chipotle is trending right now.  And they don’t care because that’s not the food that they love.  But when you tangle with someone’s love, be prepared.  Their idea of wonderful may not be yours and this is where I want to encourage you to try. 

Speaking of trying, how about our little friend the sardine?  I know that he’s typically hated on along with his pal, the anchovy.  Oh, and the herring.  They get hated on, too.  I get that.  Maybe you don’t like things out of a can.  But what about fresh?  What about just caught off the coast in a fishing boat that morning?  What if given TLC and attention by a cook who knows them best?  Think of it this way.  What if someone told you that they didn’t like ham based only on their trying Spam?  Or if I told you that I can’t stand asparagus because I’ve only ever had it boiled within an inch of its life?  I think that’s what those who think highly of the sardine would want us to remember.  Now, I’m going to try it and I promise to report back if I regret this post.  But look at that picture I found on Flickr.  It’s from the Cinque Terre, a group of five small towns in Italy where the Mister and I will be spending two nights.  If I can eat White Castle sliders, I can definitely give this guy a whirl.

One last plug for the sardine, this guy is currently a safe choice according to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood WATCH list.  This is the group that tells us when to back off from eating certain kinds of fish for awhile so as not to eliminate them altogether.  So I’m guessing they are yummy but at least we know that they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, which is good.  The last time I liked something they discontinued them (I’m looking at you Planter’s Cheez Balls!)


2 Responses to “Yes, Sardines”


  1. She Smells Sea Shells « Trip Ahoy! - 2011/05/22

    […] good timing, my willingness to love the fruit of the sea.  Remember when I babbled on about sardines?  Well, I’ll remind you.  It came down to me suggesting that when in Rome,or Milwaukee or […]

  2. Body by Italy « Trip Ahoy! - 2011/06/25

    […] CINQUE TERRE These five separate towns are perched on the edge of mountains. Each has its own character, dialect, traditions and hiking trails. There are ocean views, olive trees and white wine along the way.  We can’t wait to relax here and enjoy the local cuisine. […]

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