Friday, July 23, 2010

For something more positive, i had the distinct pleasure of prepping and cooking some lovely sardines today.
I wanted to stress how much pleasure can be derived from eating such so-called humble ingredients, sardines do not have to come from a can, more so, like anything they are lovely when fresh. Granted they are not always available but in a way i think that makes them better, we love asparagus so much because it is only available for a short season, and in a rant similar to my last post, Alice Waters (owner and founder of Chez Pannisse, director of the French Food institute of America) was writing about tomatoes and wanted to scream at people for eating this wonderful gift of the earth out of season saying that by eating them all year round you ruin the wonderful experience of eating them when in season. It is in a similar vein to the humble sardine, you can't always have them so when you do have the chance, seize it, treat them right and they will treat you right.
it is not hard to cook your sardines either, you can do it in a fashion common in many parts of Italy and just roast or pan-fry them whole, or, if the bones and offal freak you out as they do a lot of people, just open them up and pull out the offending innards, but leave the tail on as this will hold the fish together, grill or fry them and they go wonderfully with a light salad or, of course, on toast.
one way of preparing the sardines i have not tried as yet but will be very soon is to lightly coat them in a flour mixed with, powdered mustard, sweet paprika, salt and pepper and fry them. could be served with a yoghurt or mayonnaise based sauce or again, with a salad.
I think it is important not to look down on so-called humble ingredients or you will miss a lot of pleasure. Hundreds of years ago ( before fridges and freezers ) all over Europe most people could not afford the more choice cuts of meat etc. and as such had to find ways to make what they could afford taste beautiful, or they would starve. if these same people were lucky enough to live ( or know someone who did ) on a farm and an animal had to be slaughtered then you had to use the whole animal, throwing away food would be a crime against both the animal and their empty stomachs! So, things like salami, salt fish, confit, terrine etc. were born, a way to hold that meat for the winter and thus survive the cold months. In the modern age we have much less need for these practices and while they were born out of necessity, it turns out makes great food!
When it comes to food i am proud to be the peasant i am, and i encourage everyone to look for those cheap cuts, the shun fish, the paupers vegetable and find a lovely traditional recipe and i guarantee you will enjoy it more than you think.

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