Vintage fish, vintage fish……a fast disappearing street cry.

sardine_box_0001“When there is absolutely nothing in the house, take a brace of pheasants, a pint of thick cream….” was the gist of Mrs.Beeton’s advice: admittedly this sensible advice related to the arrival of unexpected guests and here was I using her wise words to satisfy the arrival of an unexpected hunger pang. A quick glance around the kitchen confirmed the absence of both pheasant and thick cream: the latter, beloved of Mrs.B and essential to many of her light snacks,  is pretty well absent throughout the Hexagon. Out of game and cream, I settled for a tin of old fish, which have been a very reliable standby for hungry folk since the process of  sealing things, primarily fish, in tins was perfected on this coast some 150 years ago The Vintage sardines (2005 was a good year for fish ), that I had chosen, had lain  headless to tailless, in a bath of olive oil, patiently awaiting the glint of daylight that would herald the moment of their purpose. They did not disappoint. Cometh the moment, cometh the sardine.



About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
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41 Responses to Vintage fish, vintage fish……a fast disappearing street cry.

  1. Yum. My mum used to make me sardine sandwiches for school lunch. Didn’t make me popular over here as I sat among the peanut butter and jelly crowd. 🙂 But they were good sandwiches!

  2. Mad Dog says:

    There’s a little restaurant on the Costa Brava, just up the coast from Barcelona which cans it’s own sardines. They are supposed to be the best in Spain. I wish I could remember the name…
    I’ll post back if I can find it.
    I was delighted some years ago, when I was invited to the home of an elderly couple in Le Mans. They had a huge basement with separate kitchen, devoted to canning and preserving. I almost asked to be adopted 😉

  3. Beautiful photo! I can almost taste the briny goodness now.

  4. The family has agreed, we want those sardines!

  5. …and how did the story go on with your 2005 best year sardines… did you serve it……?????

  6. I wish the beauty of that photo could help me appreciate the taste of a sardine……

  7. Great pictures. Reminds me of my father, he loved a sardine and onion sandwich. I have a tin or two lying around and will have let those little fishies see the light of day soon.

  8. Carole says:

    I learned to eat sardines in mustard sauce with my grandfather when I was very young. Never thought to put lemon near them, but it makes a wonderful photo. 🙂

  9. Andy Szpuk says:

    love sardines . . .

  10. Michelle says:

    I couldn’t say it better than Andra. Now, where did I put my brace of pheasants?

  11. 😀 I can almost taste the anticipation, Roger.

  12. Eha says:

    What glorious photos for an oft sardine-eating gal . . . one lives and learns: I would have thought that tin was well past that famous ‘use by’ date 🙂 !

  13. It’s my go-to when the fridge is bare… suddenly, I open the cupboard and I encounter the sardines. How did you serve them? best way: topped on buttered toast!

  14. I don’t think I’ve given sardines a fair shake, but am not exactly champing at the bit to get a tin. More power to you, if they were satisfying.

  15. Tandy says:

    I think we have some of the same vintage in our pantry Roger 🙂

  16. thomas peck says:

    Mrs Beeton -how wonderful it would have been to meet her, or even better eat at her table. And how come thick cream is in short supply in France?

    • The cheese industry seems to take it all. For the most part, in France, all cream is processed. I use creme fraiche most of the time, but it’s taken me all of the 12 years that I have been here to find a version of thick,sweet cream.

  17. Cara Hobday says:

    I love that picture Roger!
    Straight on and honest, just like sardines, the only way to eat them!

  18. Karen says:

    I don’t think I have ever seen a prettier can of sardines. Your lunch would have made my husband very happy…he loves sardines.

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