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Sicilians make the famous Pasta con le sarde, in Ischia they serve them almost raw, just slightly pickled, as an appetizer but you can find them in every other possible preparation everywhere in Italy. Sardines and pilchards are names used to refer to various small fish within the herring family. The European Pilchard is the true sardine.

Easy prey, they have been caught with nets since humans learned how to fish. You can fry them, grill them, dry them, salt them, smoke them, pickle them, or use them as a fish sauce like the Ancient Romans’ garum.

The term sardine may come from the island of Sardinia, around which sardines were once abundant, or it may come from the ancient city of Sardis in Lydia (modern Sart, Turkey), nobody knows.

What we know is that they are extremely good for our health and, if fresh and well prepared, absolutely delicious. Rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals (phosphorus, calcium, potassium), sardines help you get more energy when needed because one serving can provide 13 percent of vitamin B2; roughly one-quarter of niacin; and about 150 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin B12. Sardines are also a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower blood sugar levels and reduce the occurrence of cardiovascular and Alzheimer's diseases.

The best of all news is that sardines have very tiny amounts of contaminants/poisons - like mercury - sadly present in most fish we eat. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program advices us to eat sardines from the US Pacific Coast (iwashi, pilchard, sardine) because many populations of Atlantic sardines in the Mediterranean are declining due to overfishing. This, and ineffective fishery management, result in an "Avoid" ranking.




Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch



Sardina pilchardus - April 2011 - Author Citron

Sardine grigliate