This morning, I awoke from a dream of sailing, barefoot, down the Grand Canal while a young Venetian farmhand fed me plump grapes and massaged my well-trodden but moisturized soles, to find the dappled sunlight washing over the white sheets of my Swedish horse hair bed. The house seemed unusually quiet, save for the labored breathing of my two brachycephalic bulldogs. After completing my morning pages, I rolled over to my iPhone on the nightstand and saw a text from my personal chef, Guillermo—he was feeling a little under the weather and wouldn’t be in to join me for breakfast today. A quote from Winston Churchill echoed in my mind—”Never let a good crisis go to waste.”
I slid open the heavy, weathered French chateau-inspired barn door into the kitchen and began rifling through the cabinets, when a magnificently light-yellow box caught my eye. Season brand sardines in tomato sauce—certified wild caught and sustainable, of course. The artwork—a raven-haired girl running on the shore, a lighthouse in the distance—made me wistful for my days as a young woman sunbathing off the coast of Tel Aviv. In spite of all my successes in various business ventures and realms, I still fancy myself a bit of an everyman—at least when it comes to sardines. At only a couple of dollars per can, it’s always a good idea to stock up on healthy, high-protein tinned seafood for times such as this.
I carefully slid the tin out of its cardboard shell to reveal a golden foil lid, shimmering like a field of orange blossoms in the Afghan heat. I wrapped my perfectly manicured fingers around the supposedly easy-open tab and pulled, but, as it turns out, nothing in life is easy. Like an unbroken stallion, the tab came free from the foil, leaving a splash of bright red tomato sauce in its wake. After struggling with the foil for a minute or so, the can was finally open, and I beared witness to several large bodies immersed in an oily liquid. A strong aroma of fish drifted into my nostrils.
I procured a couple of rustic crackers from the pantry and plated them alongside several gherkin pickles. The sardines were quite fishy in taste, as the smell had led me to expect, and mildly sweet. I sampled the tomato sauce and found it to be bland, albeit oily—orange pools of olive oil had begun to separate from its tomato paste base. Despite having been immersed in the unctuous liquid, the flesh of the sardines was quite dry—in fact, both the texture and flavor of the fish reminded me of the canned or bagged tuna and salmon I had become accustomed to eating before discovering the wonders of sardines and other conservas. As I admired the sardines’ impressive, glistening bodies, I noticed a spine or two poking out from the flesh; however, their taste and texture was undetectable.
I finished my modest yet satisfying breakfast and gave quiet thanks to the fish, the fishermen, and my personal shopper who had purchased the sardines for me several weeks ago. Although these Season sardines may not have been the most exquisite tinned fish I had ever sampled, they nourished me—and I was grateful.
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