Wednesday, June 8, 2016

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 281: Eat sardines and crackers

Even though sardines are pretty common (you can buy them in just about any grocery store), I’d somehow managed to live over 40 years without having ever eaten any. A couple of years ago, I got into a discussion about sardines with a friend, and decided to put sardines and crackers on my “bucket list” to satisfy my curiosity about this somewhat unusual food. On Sunday night, I finally tried them for the first time and was pleasantly surprised by how good they were.

For those of you unfamiliar with sardines, they’re small fish that look kind of like minnows. You can buy them in all sorts of places in small cans, and the fish are usually smoked (even though they look raw). You can also get them grilled or pickled.

For whatever reason, sardines always make me think of lunch pails and fishing trips. Since they come in small cans, they’re perfect for packing in a sacked lunch, and I’ve also always associated them with foods like potted meat and Vienna sausages, which are commonly eaten on fishing trips in my neck of the woods. Now that I’ve actually tried some for myself, I can see why so many people like them.

On Sunday afternoon, I went to the Dollar General Store in downtown Excel and checked out their selection of sardines. The only brand they sold was called Beach Cliff Sardines, and they had three varieties – Sardines in Water, Sardines in Louisiana Hot Sauce and Sardines in Mustard Sauce. After checking their expiration dates (February 2019), I bought a can of each for a grand total of three dollars and some change.

At home, I grabbed a plate, a sleeve of fresh saltine crackers and a big glass of sweet tea before opening can of Sardines in Water. I immediately noted the fishy smell and their unpleasant appearance in the can. I soldiered on anyway, scooped one out of the can with a fork and onto my plate. I then cut it in half with my fork and shoveled it into my mouth.

Despite their smell and appearance, the plain sardines tasted really good, and I could immediately see why they’re so popular. They taste A LOT better than they smell and look. Next I tried the can of hot sauce sardines and then the can in mustard sauce. It’s hard to say, but if I had to pick a favorite, I’d probably go with the sardines in hot sauce.

Not only did I try sardines by themselves, but I also ate them on saltine crackers, and the crackers do make a difference. I can’t say why, but the crackers actually dull the taste of the sardines somewhat. If it came down to having to pick whether to eat them with or without crackers, I’d go with the crackers.

My wife and kids watched all of this, and were somewhat disgusted at first. My wife absolutely refused to eat any sardines, and nothing I could say would change her mind. However, both the kids tried a bite or two after I bribed them with the promise of a dollar each.

In the end, how many of you have eaten sardines and crackers? What did you think about them? What other unusual foods would you recommend trying? Let us know in the comments section below.

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