An Open Letter

by Matt on February 26, 2008

Openlettersardines

Dear Sirs and/or Madams,

Hi!
How are you? I hope this blog post finds you well. Me? I”m ok. Wait.
Not really. I need to get something off my chest and I hope I can steal
a moment or two of your time.

After many months of
soul-searching, consultations with family, advisers, clergy and
significant others, it has come to my attention that there is something
I can no longer hide and must respectfully reveal to you. I
don’t want this to affect our relationship in any way whatsoever, and
I’m hoping that my revelation will be met with compassion,
understanding, and nary a flicker of grimace or snarl that I’ve come to
expect whenever I begin to talk about what I must say to you here.

I love tinned sardines.

There.
I said it! And…. there you go. I knew this would happen, I just knew
it! Come back! Please, I’m not finished yet. Please?

Ok,
thanks. So listen, I want you to know that I’m really the same person
you’ve always known. And even though you’ve the first to serve up a big
giant plate of snark and disapproval whenever I take out that
distinctive tin can at lunch I want you to know that I don’t hold that
against you. And no, it doesn’t upset me either when you ask me for the
35th time if I’m "really going to eat that?" and you’ll be happy to
know I don’t hold it against you that you believe my love of tinned
fish gives you an excuse to pass judgment on my meal. In fact I almost
find it comical watching your face contort and twist in disgust as if I
just committed the crime of the century or said you wore granny drawers
or still sucked your thumb as an adult or something rude like that.

But
as of today, enough is enough. I’m coming out of the closet, so to
speak, and professing my love for tinned fish. And here’s why:

1.
I happen to like the way they taste.
Rich and distinctive with a soft
to medium-firm texture, I’ve always loved their flavor and if I can’t
find fresh sardines (a term used to describe a whole variety of small
fish) to cook myself then the canned variety suits me just fine. And
please remember that "fishy" is subjective.

2. They pack some
pretty powerful nutrients.
They have a decent amount of omega-3 fatty
acids and are also great sources of iron. How can you argue?

3.
I’ve enjoyed them since I was a wee lad
. That’s right — I’ve eaten
them as long as I can remember, thanks to my dad who would share the
tangy flavor of sardines in mustard sauce with a few saltine crackers
with me as a snack. So when you feel the need to knock this diminutive,
smelly and often maligned fish, you’re gonna have to go through Pops.

4.
They make me happy.
A few high-quality sardines packed in oil, a hunk
of baguette and a few celery stalks and I’m as happy as a clam. Or
sardine. In a can. I am. You get the picture.

Now that I’ve said
my peace I think it’s best if we grow together and move forward. Next
time you see me carting around that little unmistakable can I hope you
realize it’s my lunch you’re making fun of and that you’ll think twice
before knocking it. And if you’re lucky I might even let you have one.

Just kidding.

………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Sardine and Celery Salad adapted from Food & Wine Magazine

Sardine_salad

Hot damn! You have no idea how much better I feel now. Seriously. And
now that I have that off my chest I’d like to recommend this little
salad that appeared a few years ago in
Food & Wine. It makes a
nifty little lunch when paired with rye crackers or bread, and it’s so
flavorful that you needn’t make much. Imported high quality sardines
from Spain or Portugal are the best in my humble opinion, and make sure
you also use a high quality mustard. You know what they say about
better ingredients and all. The original recipe called for cilantro but I prefer parsley with the sardines.

Ingredients
1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons grainy mustard (make sure it’s good!)
1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Four 4 3/8-ounce cans sardines in oil, drained and coarsely chopped
4 large celery ribs, peeled and cut into 1-inch matchsticks
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions
In a large bowl, mix the parsley with the olive oil, grainy and Dijon mustards, red onion and the lemon juice and zest. Fold in the sardines and celery and season with salt and pepper. Chill and serve or pack in a plastic container. Enjoy with rye crackers.