Yesterday we were talking about things we had not eaten for a long time (at the supper table of course!). One of the things that came to mind were Pilchards: specifically the canned pilchards in tomato sauce that we used to eat often when I was growing up in South Africa. I remember eating this as a side dish to the red lentils both my mom and grandmother used to make for dinner. (This was a meal my mom learned to make under the guidance of her mother-in-law; and it was one I had learned how to make under the tutelage of my mom.) Every time we went shopping for groceries, this was one canned food that always used to go into the shopping trolley.
When I married, this fish food continued to make its way onto my list and into the shopping cart. Having married a Mauritian, I could continue to make the dish prepared by my Mauritian-born grandmother: red lentils with pilchards on the side. The fish (prepared with garlic, onion and tomato) is a perfect accompaniment to the creamy cooked lentils. The leftover fish is perfect the next morning as a toast topper. Not a scrap enters the bin in the kitchen, or is set aside to turn to mould in the fridge.
One of the things we have missed moving to the northern hemisphere is the taste of pilchards cooked in a textured tomato sauce. We make do with sardines in brine; or sardines sold in a thin, salty, tomato-tasting liquid. But nothing compares, however, to one of the tastes of my childhood.
What are one of the tastes of you childhood?
© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013