One night back in November 2015, I had sardines and rice for dinner. It was the first time I had eaten sardines since I was young, probably younger than 13. More than 40 years is a long time to not eat something that didn’t offend my taste buds. I just never had the desire to eat them.
My wife, Josie, and every Filipino related to her have eaten sardines for years. It’s a common dish in the Philippines.
There’s a reason for the expression, “packed like sardines”. The tins I remember had a lot of the little fishes packed into them with very little tomato sauce. I ate them on saltines (crackers) a few times, prodded by an older sister.
The brand of sardines they like around my house in Olongapo go by the brand name of “Ligo”. Ligo’s fish come in red and green cans (not tins), smothered in various flavors of sauce. The can Josie opened, heated and put on top of my rice had only three fish in it and a lot of sauce. I really couldn’t complain because at 15 pesos (around 30 cents USD) per can, it was an inexpensive meal.
The fish didn’t bother me but the sauce was offensive. I managed to eat it all, but it took me lot longer than I expected. It didn’t taste as bad as the “cream of broccoli” soup I put on my rice a few days before. Now that was nasty and I still managed to eat it.
I generally don’t like small fish, but sardines and anchovies don’t taste bad until they’re dressed up with something that tastes bad. Like bagoong. Filipinos love it but I can’t stand to be near it.
The only reason I’m eating as much fish as I can stomach is because I know I need to do so. It’s the best source of Omega-3 fatty acids, something the typical American doesn’t get enough of. We tend to get more Omega-6 fatty acids from other animals. Small fish have less mercury than big fish (according to experts), so it’s fairly safe to eat them as often as I can handle them.
I don’t like all the fish the people around me like to eat. I don’t like dried fish at all and most of the fish they eat have too many bones to pick out. That’s the main reason I don’t like tilapia or milkfish and also because they tend to taste a bit too fishy to me.
Of course I like tuna, but that’s a big fish. I’ve never tasted mackerel, so I don’t know if I’ll like it or not when I do. I haven’t eaten sardines since 2015 and I may or may not eat them again. Tins of sardines are all over the place in the United States, but I couldn’t find them in the Philippines. I’ll definitely avoid the ones that come in cans.