Sardines

Sardines

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Sardines or pilchards, when absolutely fresh, are rigid, arched like a bow, and they glitter with reflections of a bright steel blue. Fresh anchovies, finer but rarer (in France they appear on the market during the month of May and I am told that it is only then that they surface to spawn and may be netted), may be subjected to any of the treatments normally dedicated to the sardine.

The Mediterranean pontine (or poutina), tiny minnows of a number of closely related fish, for the most part sardines and anchovies, may, for all practical purposes, be considered to be the same thing as whitebait, minnows of their more northern cousins herrings and sprats, dominating in the English version; it is reasonable to assume that American whitebait varies in composition depending on where it has been fished. Whitebait is nearly always deep fried (tossed, as is, in a paper bag of seasoned flour, tossed repeatedly in a sieve to rid it of excess flour, fried, small quantities at a time, in very hot olive oil for a minute or so, drained, and garnished with fried parsley, lemon apart—it may be lightly sprinkled with cayenne) or, sometimes, pan fried, the floured and seasoned mass being colored as a block on one side before being tossed (or unmolded onto a plate and slipped back into the hot pan, to which has been added a bit more oil).