When is a fish not a fish?

sardinesI recently bought several tins of sardines at Lidl supermarket. Yesterday, feeling a bit peckish I opened one. Digging a fork in I took a mouthful. Mmmm… they don’t taste like those I get from Sainsbury’s – shouldn’t all sardines taste the same?

A thought immediately crossed my mind – are they contaminated with toxic waste? Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions.. I eat a lot of fish who swim in the same sea, and none that I’ve eaten over the years contained toxic waste – otherwise I might have been dead by now.

I was so pleased no one was present to witness my overreaction. How silly I would have felt, having composed myself over this storm-in-a-teacup. I dug the fork in again – oh my god, the taste was the same as the first. Then it hit me – how do I know the sardines In this tin swam in the same sea as all the fish I’ve ever eaten? There’s Seven Seas in the world, which one was this tin swimming in? Did the other fish know which sea to swim in that didn’t contain any toxic? Then I did something I never do – read the small print on the product. The first thing that caught my eye confirming my early suspicion was, quote: Allergy advice – contains fish. I immediately thought, that being the case it must contain something else. Which on closer scrutiny it didn’t mention. What is this something else? Could it be toxic waste? As luck would have it, I have a Sherlock Holmes Deerstalker (a present from someone or other) which I donned, and made a closer inspection of the tin’s contents.

The digging in of my fork had made a horrible mess of the sardines, reflecting for a moment that Sainsbury’s sardines were proper looking gentlemen In comparison (see photo). Still wearing the deerstalker, I continued my investigation by consulting the dictionary to clarify exactly the definition of where sardines stand in relation to creatures of the deep. Quote: “sardines, a small fish of the herring family”. So, my investigation has uncovered the fact that sardines are in fact a fish, part of a happy family, cruelly taken from their bosom, crammed into tins, and stuck on a supermarket shelf at 45p a tin. What a cruel world this is.

Next time I’m in a supermarket and pass the stacked sardines I’ll murmur “I’m on your side, guys”, then promptly pick up a tin of cod roe, and hurry to the check-out. Yum yum.

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