Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Juan Cole, Ann Coulter, and Sardines - essay

Juan Cole has been denied a post at Yale even though two different departments wanted to have him. Their desires were overidden by outside influences in a very unusual maneuver. Juan Cole has been an outspoken critic of Israel - enough said.

Ann Coulter continues her absolutely hateful ways. Now she is attacking the 9/11 widows for apparently being pleased by their husbands' deaths and trying to benefit materially from them. Why does anyone pay attention to this hateful woman who has nothing to offer except sensationalism and hatred. Why is she invited on talk shows? Infotainment be damned, I will NEVER watch any program on which she is a guest.

As the only things of importance at the moment seem to be gay marriage and flag burning, consider the case of sardines:


I like sardines. My father introduced me to the joys of sardines when I was just a little boy. I have eaten them ever since. My wife refuses to eat them. My son won’t eat them. None of my friends eat them. They think sardines (and me, too, I guess) are disgusting. Even so, for some bizarre reason, people of late have been giving me presents of sardines. My son, out of the blue, presented me with a can for no reason at all. A close friend apparently saw sardines on sale and couldn’t resist buying some for me (she was quite put out because there were so few cans left). Shortly thereafter another friend presented me with still another can of sardines. I can think of no explanation for this. The world must be going mad.
While I am always appreciative of attention and gifts this recent bounty of free sardines has created a bit of a problem. For those of you not conversant with this fishy delicacy, sardines come in a variety of different ways and sizes. Actually, I was not aware of the extent of this variation until I began getting these gifts. All my life I have only eaten Norwegian sardines. They are very small and packed in two tight rows in an easy to open can (hence the phrase “packed in like sardines”). They used to be packed in sild (fish) oil but for some reason they are now packed in olive oil. Either way they are delicious. However, I have now learned that sardines come packed not only in olive oil, but also in soybean oil. Some are packed in water. Still others are packed in tomato sauce, some in tomato sauce with sherry, some in mustard sauce, some in garlic sauce, and still others are lightly smoked and packed in soybean oil. There is one brand of hot (spicy) sardines called ZerGut that are lightly smoked and served in vegetable oil, chili and salt. As they come from Morocco I have no idea why they are labeled in German. And, as the only place I have ever found them was in a Russian delicatessen this strikes me as even more mysterious (I guess it really is just a small world).
To me a sardine has always been a small whole fish (sans head) tightly packed in a can. Some are slightly larger than others. Norwegian sardines are the smallest but others can be easily two or three times the size. There are even much larger sardines but these are not usually canned, being cooked whole like mackerel or other such fish. Thus I was puzzled when I came across sardines packed in a round can. “How can this be,” I thought. “It must be hard to fit sardines into a round can.” This demonstrates my commitment to the whole fish concept and also my limited imagination. It turns out these are somewhat larger sardines than most and are cross-sectioned so the round little pieces can fit tightly and comfortably in round cans. I confess I am not pleased with sardines in this form and I cannot eat them. Sardines to me are supposed to be whole. Similarly, having tried some of my gift sardines I can tell you that I do not like them in mustard or tomato sauce. I only eat sardines packed in oil, preferably sild oil (which you can’t get anymore) but I’m willing to accept olive oil, soybean oil, and, in an emergency, even water. I also confess to enjoying the “hot” sardines from Morocco.
My father told me Norwegian sardines were the best. He was right. I know I am not the only person who eats sardines even though no one in my immediate life space does. I am thinking of starting a club for sardine eaters, “The Gourmet Sardine Eaters of America.” We can meet and discuss the relative merits of different sizes of sardines, different methods of packing them, and even the relative merits of, say, Portuguese sardines compared to Moroccan, Norwegian, American, Spanish, or other sardines (sardines are ubiquitous). I think the first order of business should be to decide whether or not to recognize fish in round cans as sardines. I say no, but we could vote on it.
In any case, remember that sardine lovers need love too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I suggest not eating sardines that have salt added. In fact, unless you eat the oil they are packed in, you will not get the benefit of good fish oil (omega 3), which leaches out.

But if you eat them packed in water, no omega 3 oil leaches out and you get its full benefit.

The main reason not to eat them if you suffer from gout.