A Fishy Federal Offense
My first (and only, hopefully only) experience with being challenged at Customs involved a package I was asked to bring from Paris many years ago. I witnessed it being packed, and it never occurred to me that I’d be stopped because of it.
Nor that a 20 something with a mysterious package would raise suspicions.
When challenged by the authorities at immigration, I was honest about the contents. The questioning escalated. Perhaps they were giving me a chance for a reduced prison sentence by confessing.
When the increasingly hostile Customs inspector finally unwrapped the package, his horror was palpable as smelly juices ran all over his work station. Offensive, indeed.
“I TOLD you it was salted sardines.”
Everyone talks about sardines, but let’s be honest. Other than the food-loving readers of myMEGusta, I’ll wager that most people who use this phrase, particularly when referring to the NYC subway system, have never personally opened a can of sardines.
And that’s a shame, because these little fish are loaded with vitamins, minerals and omega-3s, and they make for a quick, delicious lunch, especially if partnered with some crunchy bread.
Parisian bistros offer them (yes, out of the can) as the first course in prix fixe menus, and “artisanal” canned sardines are to be found at tony food stores here and in Europe.
Named for the Italian island Sardinia, the true sardine is a small type of pilchard, a fish more widely known in Europe. Sometimes, the least expensive canned “sardines” in supermarkets are really little herrings or sprats, but tasty all the same.
They occasionally show up fresh at the fish market, and are a treat on the grill, with a little salt and pepper, maybe olive oil.
Another classic within our grasp is the famous Sicilian pasta con sardo, made of fresh sardines (although good quality canned will work just fine), raisins, fennel and other ingredients depending on who your a) cookbook author or b) Sicilian grandmother is.