Season Brand Sardines in Tomato Sauce Salt Added

Country: Morocco
Calories: 194

Nose: Smells of tomato paste and nothing but. Read the ingredients. Yep, that’s what it is.

Wow! Look at all those certifications!

Eye: Kind of ugly, no? The can came with this flimsy paper-ish lid that reminded me of a yogurt top. I want something a bit more solid on my fish, especially from a hot place like Morocco.

Flimsy top.

Fork Feel: Very firm. They are also tightly packed in which seems to stiffen them up a bit more. A bit too solid feeling

Tongue: The tomato taste just lays on top of the fish. It’s not marinated at all so you have to swirl it a bit but once you do you get a descent taste. If you have some pepper or other seasoning laying about the office, give it a try. And if you like the taste of sardines as I do, you will find it smothered here so there’s that.

Mouth Feel: They didn’t dry out the fish and the aftertaste is that of spaghetti-os.

Wild Planet Wild Sardines in Marinara Sauce

Country: North Pacific (processed in Vietnam)
Calories: 157.5 (the nutrition label is a little different on this one)

I never noticed the little fishing line with a hook off the boat before. Not a nasty net for Wild Planet!

Nose Open it up and it smells like discount spaghetti sauce.

Eye: It doesn’t look bad but could be improved by cooking up some pasta and tossing it in. Not a bad lunch at all.

Fork Feel: Very firm. It doesn’t’;t feel like the tomatoes were too acidic and cooked the fish too much. That’s nice.

Tongue: The sauce brings some sweetness – maybe it’s the added sugar – to the fish. Not in a bad way. One small detail: I’ve noticed a metallic understate – just a hint – about half way through eating the can.

Mouth Feel: The sauce seems to give a fresh after taste after eating the fish that the oil or lemon based cans of sardines do. That’s a pleasant change up.

I do like the little finger divot they put in below the pull tab. That’s considerate.

Wild Planet Wild Sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Lemon-Lightly Smoked

Country: North Pacific (processed in Vietnam. Hey, so was my dad!)
Calories: 170

Nose: None whatsoever. The office grumps are not going to yell at you for this one.

Eye: A slice of lemon right on top. That’s nice. These Wild Planet guys just look healthy and fresh to my untrained eye.

Beauty shot!

Fork Feel: A little soft, actually. As in other tastings, I think a bit of acid/lemon does that. But it’s not too bad. I prefer it to be meatier and oiler so I’d go without the citrus but I wouldn’t turn it down if offered.

I eat well.

Tongue: I’m not getting too much of the lemon. Maybe just an overall lightening of the taste but that’s it. There’s no citrus taste to it.

Mouth Feel: A slight amount of mealiness which I sometimes find it lemon flavored sardines. It’s bordering on dry but not there at all. Just flirting with dry.

Handled with such care I had to take it out of the can.
CONTAINS FISH (SARDINES) WHY?

King Oscar Kipper Snacks Lightly Smoked Herring Fillets

Country: Canada
Calories: 160

Old Beardy is Back!

Note: Man cannot live by sardines alone. I usually go for sardines simply because I try to eat fish at lunch every day. While I’m not one to be afraid of my food, mercury is a thing and sardines are at the bottom of the mercury chain (and cheap!) so they are my normal go to.

Nose: Fishy! Not really office friendly. Then again, neither am I.

Eye: These are some pretty fish.I like it when fish look like fish. These do. They aren’t tarted up to look like something they’re not.

Apparently the Brits eat with eggs. I’m going to have to try that.

Fork Feel: Packed like Marie Kondo had a go at them. Very tidy.

Tongue: Kippers taste like kippers. These taste like kippers. I don’t have much kipper tasting experience however. I like how these taste. It seems a good honest working man taste. I like that for lunch.

Mouth Feel: Very pleasant to the mouth. Almost meaty which is pleasing. I don’t appreciate a wimpy fish.

Wild Planet Wild Sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil Lightly Smoked

Country: “Sustainable caught in the north Pacific” it says on the front. But then on the end in small print the box says “processed in Thailand” which isn’t the north Pacific. Whatevs.
Calories: 170

Ok, ladies, smile for the camera.
Hey, cute can.

Nose: A healthy, fresh fish smell hits you upon top popping. Nice.

Eye:
These are some pretty fish. No really. Vitiligo aside, they look nice.

Fork Feel: They hold together well. They aren’t over packed and thus crushed into mealiness.

Tongue: I don’t get the smoke flavor that’s advertised on the box. Nor much flavor at all. They’re somewhat bland. I guess you could call it mild. Or you could call it boring.

Mouth Feel: I’m getting dry. How is an oily fish packed in oil dry? I’m disappointed.

Note: I’m always a bit leery of products that have the words “Planet” and “sustainable” and the like highlighted on them. I never know of they mean anything or are just marketing. For instance, why the paper sleeve for the metal can here? Other companies don’t need it.

All our cans get a special marketing wrapper that makes the mark up worthwhile.

War and Peace – Book One My 2019 Reading Project

I remember reading somewhere, likely about his novel Man in Full, Tom Wolfe wanting to write a great, sweeping novel like Tolstoy. And then he did. Man in Full impressed me and impressed upon me. It will never leave me.

Tolstoy at War

My own writing has been quite different. It’s straight forward. Narrow. Very direct. Sparse. For years this was my ideal. Go for Hemingway. But it’s a limitation, I think, of youth. Impatience, maybe. I just want to get on with the story. And I’m no longer a youth.

It may be time for me to write a sweeping novel where I can reflect on reflect and explore sweeping themes.

Book One of W&P is definitely tempting me further into trying it.

Yes, I struggle with the names and I struggle a bit with the French and I struggle a bit with the culture and the history. But with a decent guide and some patience the novel’s first of fifteen books – consisting of 25 shortish chapters – sucks you into the the coming narrative.

Tolstoy at Peace

I’ve honestly no idea what that narrative is about – obviously some war, right? – but what happens to Pierre, Andrey and Boris (I’ve simplified them to Pete, Andy and, well, Boris, in my head) and those around them? I’m a cultural nincompoop.

Yet, I’ve run ahead of my commitment to one chapter a day. The writing is not nearly as ponderous as I was expecting – maybe that’s the translation – the narrative is fairly light. Why was I expecting it to be about soldiers sitting in dirty snow eating potatoes talking about death? Heck, the first five chapters were set at the same party. Pierre is a dork. Boris’ mom is a pain in the ass hoot.

I’m sure things get a bit dark from here. The last couple chapters are hinting at it with deaths, fights over wills, guys hating on their sweet wives and what not but I feel like a jerk for not reading this sooner.

Onward!

This is a brilliant guide, btw: https://medium.com/@BrianEDenton/a-year-of-war-and-peace-cc66540d9619

Chicken on the Sea Sardines in Louisiana Hot Sauce

Country: Product of Poland
Calories: 120

Note: I go into this with some trepidation. I’m not a ‘hot sauce’ guy. This is due to two facts. One, I just don’t get ‘hot’ when it comes to food. What’s the point of heat? I never got it. Two, I always identified “hot sauce” with a certain chicken wing sucking, overbearing, frat boy, Midwestern backward baseball cap wearing, obnoxious aesthetic that I’d always found a bit off-putting.

But I saw this in the store and figured it was time to get past my bigotry. Plus, I’d garnered some courage recently at a Chinese hot pot restaurant when I survived some spicy broth. So here I go.

Nose: A touch of vinegar in the air but not as heavy as I was expecting.

Eye: Uh-oh, there’s red in my sardine can! And what looks to be a slice of onion and bits of…spicy. After a few bits I realize I’m just not a fan of red sardines. I just close my eyes and tuck in.

Fork Feel: They seem little softer. Maybe it’s the use of vinegar over oil. They’re still the same as my favorite can from yesterday. And thick feeling.

Tongue: They are not nearly as hot as I was fearing. I’ve changed my diet recently in a few ways and my taste buds have changed with it. Maybe it’s part of that. But I’m able to endure ‘hot’ better but this doesn’t seem that hot. It’s reminiscent of the taco sauce they used to give us back in middle school (when tacos were considered ethnic food) – a watered down, vinegary pepper sauce.

Mouth Feel: The sauce flavor lingers much longer than the sardine flavor. It repeats on me which is not office friendly. Thankfully I have no afternoon meetings today.

Chicken on the Sea Sardines in Oil and Lightly Smoked

Country: Product of Poland (why can’t they say caught in Poland?)
Calories: 150

Hello, old friend!

Note: This has been my go-to can of sardines for the past year. I’ve eaten it every week day. So it should be familiar but I’ve also eaten them mindlessly so paying them some attention will be new.

Nose: The oil is soybean – that stuff they grow in Indiana – so not much smell. There is a smokiness to it but it’s not like these went over a romantic smoldering process. It’s a “smoke” flavoring. Still ok.

Eye: Some good, honest looking cuts of sardines. Nothing too fancy. Skin and bones. They whacked the heads and tails for ya but otherwise, thems good, healthy eatin’.

A good, honest can of sardines.

Fork Feel: I like these because you can fork through both sides of the fish and there’s no risk of it falling off from can to mouth.

Tongue: This probably isn’t a good introductory sardine for most. You are eating and tasting the fish. The smoke highlights it and lifts it a bit. A touch salty which brings the fish forward even more. There is no other seasoning in the can.

Mouth Feel: The soybean oil helps me on the mouth feel as well as feeling full. A 150 calorie lunch only goes so far. They also don’t clean up this fish for those with delicate sensibilities so you get the complete sensory experience, which is nice.

Chicken of the Sea Sardines in Mustard Sauce

New and Improved Quality, it says!

Country: Packed in Poland
Calories: 130

Nose: Vinegar! I mean, it says mustard on the can so you expect a bit of mustard but this is Vinegar!

Eye: Splat! The machine splats some mustard in there. It’s Chicken of the Sea, decidedly mass produced/canned sardines so I’m not expecting hipster-y delicate touches. But maybe you can tune the machine to do more than just Splat! the mustard.

Splat!

Fork Feel: These were good swimmers. Firm fish. They feel a bit dry however.

Tongue: I’m not a mustard guy. I put ketchup on my hotdogs. But this isn’t too bad. It’s vinegary but the mustard does come through. And neither overpower the fish.

Mouth Feel: Dry. Maybe the mustard/vinegar dried them out. Do mustard people like dry things?

I love a dangling spine!

King Oscar Wild Caught Sardines Mediterranean Style

I like how “Wild Caught” is in a “Wild” script.

Country: Packed in Poland (something I’ll avoid in life)
Calories: 260

Nose: I’m a bit stuffy today so I’m not getting much. I think even with a clear nose, it’s underwhelming.

Eye: Oh so pretty when you pop it. Black olives piled on top with a tapenade of crushed/diced bits of other Mediterranean bits below it. Skin, fins and bones all lined up in pretty little rows.

I feel pretty, oh, so pretty!

Fork Feel: Nice.

Tongue: For a canned meal this is seasoned well. Lots of bits of seasoning are left in the bottom of the can when I was done. They weren’t stingy.

Mouth Feel: I think the only honest way to eat a sardine is with skin, with fin and with bones. It’s the whole textural and flavor package.