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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Sardines. Fresh Sardines. If you Have Not Tasted Freshly Grilled Sardines, you Have Not Really Tasted Sardines.

Behind the French Menu.
Bryan Newman

Grilled Sardines in France
Photograph courtesy of mmmyoso.
Sardine, Sardine Commune, Sardine d'Europe – The Sardine.

Fresh sardines taste nothing like canned sardines, nothing at all. Begin your entry into the world of the fresh sardine with a sardine entrée, the French first course. Order  fresh grilled, Sardines Fraîches Grillées, or  marinated,  Sardines Fraiche Marinées. Afterwards, you will be licking your lips every time you think about them. 

 A grapefruit, fennel and sardine salad.
Photograph courtesy of avlxyz.

The fresh sardines served in France are mostly quite a bit larger than those we see in a can, and a portion for an entree will be three or four fish.  Many small fish, look, and taste, very much the same; for the fishermen and fisherwomen, and the diners they are all sardines:
In season, fresh sardines will be on many French menus.
Unfortunately, they are only rarely on the menu at Home.
Your menu may offer:
Filets de Sardines Fraîches Marinées au Citron Vert et Feuilles de Coriandre. - Filets of fresh sardines marinated in lime and coriander leaves.

Marinated sardines in France.
Here they are shown on toast and avocado.
Photo courtesy of Brett Emerson.

Sardines Fraîches Grillées – Grilled fresh sardines.
Sardines Fumées - Smoked sardines; a unique treat.
Rillettes de Sardines Fraîches à la Ciboulette -  Fresh sardines grilled, boned and then mashed and  flavored  with herbs; they make a tasty sardine spread on toast. Rillettes are more often on menus when made with goose, duck or pork, but definitely should not be ignored when made with fresh sardines.

A sardine  fishing boat.
Photograph courtesy of Anita Gilmore.
Sardines Fraiche Marinées à l'Huile d'Olive des Baux  AOC/AOP
Une Fougasse de Sardines Fraiches, Huile au Basilic et Vinaigrette de Tomate.  The fougasse was originally a Provencal crusty bread. It is made of baguette dough brushed with olive oil and flavored with orange zest and that is still the tradition. However, many Fougasse breads have changed beyond recognition. Now Fougasse come with a wide variety of fillings.  For more about French breads click here.
Where did the sardine get its name?
The name sardine relates, historically, to the pilchards, and similar small fish, caught off the coast of the Italian island of Sardinia. These were the first fish to be preserved, in large quantities,  by packing in oil; hence from Sardinia come sardines.  Around France’s lakes, small freshwater lake-fish may also be on the menu as sardines or lake sardines.
Visiting France’s fishing ports and their celebrations.
There are many fishing villages and towns on France's Atlantic coast.  In the sardine season the fish  move up and down the coast from May through September;  then the  fishermen and women, each fishing group over two week periods,  will be bringing fresh sardines to the market.
In those fishing villages and towns where sardines are an important catch many have fetes that celebrate sardines. At other times they will celebrate herrings, anchovies or tuna etc. However, this is post on sardines so I will keep to the sardine celebrations.
Fêtes de la Sardine  de La Turballe
Consider, as an example, the Sardine Fete held in the beautiful small town, (pop 5,000) of La Turballe. La Turballe is in the department of the Loire-Atlantique, in the région of the Pays de la Loire.  They have their two Fêtes de la Sardine on the third Saturday in July and the third Saturday in Augusts. N.B. Always always check the dates of celebrations with the nearest Tourist Information Office or in the case of La Turballe at their  English language website:
You may visit  La Turballe’s  fête from 11:30 in the morning until 10:00 at night.  There you will be offered tastings of grilled sardines, sardine based fish soups, sardine tartare, and many other tempting dishes as well as other local products. The organizers claim that in during each one day fete a ton of sardines is consumed!  All the sardines you can eat may be accompanied by the very wide choice of the wines of the Pay de la Loire. 

 The fishing port of La Turballe. 
Photograph courtesy of bixintx. 
At other times stop at La Turballe for lunch even when there are no sardines. All year round there will be fresh sole, mackerel, skate, St Peter's fish, monkfish, and many other fish and seafood in the local restaurants.  Visit the town's museum, La Maison de la Pêche, their fishing museum. The museum’s website is in French, but using Google or Bing translate you will be able to understand it  very well:

When you have eaten enough sardines  or other fish for lunch, take a short drive, about 10 km, to La Turballe’s beaches. There you may rent an umbrella and a beach chair and relax and watch the world go by. If you are travelling in the area note that Guérande, so famous for its Fleur de Sel, is only 7 km (4 miles)  away.  
 Relax on the beach. 
Photograph courtesy of freddie boy.
There are food and wine festivals in nearly every French City town and village. Do not miss out on Frances Wine roads, Cheese trails, and fetes for everything from sardines to figs. When you know when your travelling plans look up the France Tourism Development Agency Office nearest to you and email them for the food and wine events on the dates near to where you will be travelling
Sardines in the languages of France’s neighbors:
(German – sardine, pilchard), (Italian - sardine, sarda, sardella, sardina comune), (Spanish - sardine commune).
These are the sardines you will have trouble enjoying
when you get back home.
Photograph courtesy of devaburger.
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Bryan G. Newman

Behind the French Menu.

Copyright 2010, 2012, 2014.

For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

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