Monday, December 24, 2012
I usually leave discussions of all things food-related and budgetary to my good friend, the lovely and knowledgeable Miss Moneypenny, but since she shares an aversion to the humble sardine with millions of other Americans, I'll have to continue my research in this area without her.
What we know about this tiny fish, which grows quickly, breeds prolifically, and dies young is that it's a near-perfect food source, full of omega-3 fatty acids (good cholesterol), protein, and vitamin D. Furthermore, the several species of live fish that are sold as sardines (a method of preparation, not a species; Matt Groening remarked years ago that "There is no such thing as a live sardine.") are abundant and sustainable.
In a post on his elegantly-written and attractive blog, Sustainable Sushi, the writer Casson reminds us that despite their great virtues as a food, "Unfortunately, sardines have a scandalous reputation. Most Americans view them as cheap, lowbrow fare that is best consumed down by the train tracks, generally accompanied by fortified wines, tall tales, harmonica music, and lots of scratching."
That may be changing, as more and more varieties of top-of-the-food-chain species such as tuna and salmon become more critically endangered from overfishing, causing prices for them to spike, and putting them out of reach for those of us who are less than wealthy. And as Casson points out, the influential foodie (among other things) Oprah herself recently endorsed a menu that includes sardines, and named the humble fishes as one of her 25 "super foods."
So in the interest of promoting great nutrition at affordable prices, here's tonight's experimental menu. I'll make open faced sardine sandwiches on toast spread with a mixture of four parts mayonnaise to one part soy sauce, and including, besides the fish, chopped olives and sliced tomato. I'll use a lightly-smoked Portuguese pilchard from Trader Joes, and a little stinky cheese would probably go good with that, too. It doesn't take much of the gorgonzolas and bleus to bust both a budget and a cholesterol count, but since I'll be getting all that omega-3, these sandwichettes should be cholesterol-neutral.
I'll let you know how it turned out tomorrow.