The 24th of November is Sardines Day.
The day celebrates the fish that provide us with an affordable, delicious, highly nutritious food.
In some years, Sardines Day falls on Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., so you may wish to consider treating your guests to a surprise meal featuring sardines: the ones that complain about the “same old turkey” will surely be delighted!
Several different types of fish are actually grouped together and called “sardines”.
The fish are very high in Omega-3 oils, which nutritionists really want us getting far more of, while also being very low in contaminants such as mercury because sardines eat plankton rather than other fish.
Sardines can be a sustainable fish, especially if they are sold under the blue Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label. And, they are nutritional powerhouses to boot, making them truly a food to feed a small planet.
The canned ones can be packed in water, in an oil or sometimes in a tomato sauce. Many people have only ever met a sardine from a tin, but sardines that have not been canned are a completely different thing, and in many cuisines sardines are more typically eaten grilled or fried rather than forked out of an oily tin.
Sardines can taste fishier than some other fish, especially when canned, as the canning process intensifies flavours.
Some wags say their preparation method is to open the tin then fling the contents straight into the bin.
What people are not liking is perhaps not so much sardines as rather the product made with them — namely canned sardines. Try instead the fresh or frozen-thawed ones, which have a less intense taste. Also try marinating them in a light marinade, and then grilling, broiling or pan frying them for a totally different texture and taste experience.
Activities for today
- Cook with some fresh or frozen-thawed sardines at home;
- order a grilled sardine dish in a restaurant;
- look for different recipe ideas for using the tinned ones.
Wang, Chichi. The Nasty Bits: How to Make Sardine Lovers out of Sardine Skeptics. Serious Eats. 30 October 2019.
A National Sardine Day appears to have been observed in July in the 1930s:
“Yes, believe it or not, today [11 July 1930] is National Sardine Day… motto (or slogan): “Say It With Sardines”… suggested breakfast, sardines on toast: lunch, sardines off toast: supper, sardine tails en casserole.” — Lord Camden’s Almanack. Friday. Sunday, 6 July 1930. Page A8, col. 4.
In the mid-1990s, Sardines Day was on the 4th of October, according to many newspapers.
The earliest print media mention that CooksInfo is aware of for a Sardines Day in November dates from 2014 in Wisconsin:
“Nov. 24: Sardines Day” — 10 things you should know before starting your week. Kenosha, Wisconsin: Kenosha News. Sunday, 23 November 2014. Page B1, col. 4.
Birthdays for November and National Sardines Day. San Angelo, Texas: 975 KGKL Radio. 24 November 2014.Accessed October 2021 at http://975kgkl.com/birthdays-for-november-24th-national-sardines-day/
Iglesias, Iza. PH celebrates second National Sardines Day. Manila, Philippines: The Manila Times. 3 December 2020. Accessed October 2021 at https://www.manilatimes.net/2020/12/03/life-times/flavors/ph-celebrates-second-national-sardines-day/804002
National Sardines Day – Cornish Sardines with rosemary, garlic and tomatoes. Edinburgh, Scotland: Seafish. 24 November 2015. Accessed October 2020 at https://www.fishisthedish.co.uk/seafood-stories/kitchen-talk/national-sardines-day-cornish-sardines-with-rosemary-garlic-and-tomatoes
Nov. 24: National Sardines Day. St Louis, Missouri: St Louis Dispatch. 20 October 2016. Accessed October 2021 at https://www.stltoday.com/nov-national-sardines-day/article_a7281746-1ca6-54fd-8116-95909b2816cd.html
Sardines Day’s papers, Saturday, Nov. 24. Ipswich, MA: The Ipswich Local News. 24 November 2018. Accessed October 2021 at http://thelocalne.ws/2018/11/24/sardines-days-papers-saturday-nov-24/
Thompson, Amy Drew. Sardines are not gross: A message for National Sardines Day. Orlando, Florida: The Orlando Sentinel. 22 November 2019. Accessed October 2021 at https://www.orlandosentinel.com/food-restaurants/os-et-national-sardines-day-orlando-restaurants-20191122-lzc43ue7ajgi3bw6ru4ltvxak4-story.html