I know, these could not sound less appetizing. They might have come straight from the 60s, when party food tended toward gellied, deviled, Spammy, whipped canapé things. And I’m not going to tell you to go on the Sardine Diet (which actually is a thing, believe it or not), but they are very tasty, and I will make a case for them:
To sum: my Dad has been pestering me to read a new(ish) book written by Taras Grescoe called Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood. His main point is that we would all be healthier and fish stocks in better shape if we ate lower on the food chain – that is the bottom-feeders – small fish and crustaceans such as sardines, anchovies, mackerel, squid and octopus whose stocks are thriving in the absence of bigger fish – predators such as tuna, cod and shark, which are being overfished. (In fact, their populations are depleting in a big way.) It’s also the larger predatory fish that have been found to be higher in mercury, which tends to accumulate to some degree in all fish but especially in shark, swordfish, tuna (particularly albacore), escolar, marlin and orange roughy, which absorb mercury from the prey they eat, causing it to become more concentrated as it moves further up the food chain.
So the bottomfeeders – and particularly the 11 or so species that are packaged as sardines (herring, smelt, pilchard, et al.) and feed on algae and other green stuff – are the best for us nutritionally and environmentally. Plus they’re cheap. Brisling sardines (King Oscar cans them) are Norweigan sardines that are particularly small and benign – you can generally tell the fishiness of sardines by their size and how badly roughed up they are when you open the can – one I picked up at the dollar store from Portugal contained about 3 mangled fish, and the Mediterranean-style brisling sardines I bought at the grocery store in the same sized can contained 12 perfectly formed wee silver fish. Mediterranean-style means they were packed in olive oil with olives, garlic, herbs and red pepper, and were phenomenal mashed with a bit of mayo, grated onion and some snipped parsley, spread on toast, cut into triangles and toasted again, inspired by the Sardine Puffs I found on Epicurious. (It won’t produce 120 appetizers, by the way.) Sardines are particularly high in omega 3 fatty acids and are of course packed with everything else that makes fish so good for you – try using a can or two in your next tuna casserole. They really aren’t any fishier than tuna. Sardines on toast is also popular, and my Grandad used to eat sardine sandwiches dipped in apple cider vinegar – his 94 year old taste buds needed some extra stimulus, I guess.
In other news, I’m down 10 lbs as of this morning. (According to my home scale, which I think I’ll stick to for now in order to maintain some sort of continuity.) Ten pounds isn’t as visually significant as it sounds on an almost 6′ frame – I still look the same, but feel better, my jeans are a bit less strained, and it’s nice to have my freighter moving in the right direction. (Maybe in doing so I’ll go from freighter to streamliner?) And it’s a thrilling feeling to know that I can lose ten, because that means I can lose the next. And the next. And it really is up to me. And it’s not as massive a deal as it was when I fretted, uncomfortably in my skin, about having to lose it – you get to a point where it’s just easier to do something about it than to not.
Speaking of my Grandad, he used to have a saying (many actually, as I’m sure most Grandads do, but this one particularly stuck): Life is hard by the yard – by the inch it’s a cinch. When you’re staring down the barrel of 100 pounds to lose it can be more than a little daunting, and easy to put off until tomorrow, or Monday, or after your birthday party, knowing that it’s going to take a really long time to get where you’re going. But imagine if you started inching in that direction a year ago? It’s easy to get caught up in the desire for immediate gratification, and sucks when you choose a long walk rather than a lie on the couch and yet come home to the exact same reflection in the mirror, but that’s how it works. So I break up the war into smaller battles: the first 10 (which is always the quickest to go, I’m sad to say), and now 8 left before I see that needle dip below 200 again, at which point I’ll maybe have a cupcake and a latte while I ponder my next destination.