Sardines vs Anchovies: A Case of Mistaken Identity at a Seaside French Bistro

If the sardines is a healthy man, then the anchozy is a beautiful and slender girl.

Just entering the comfortable April day, anchovies are in the harvest season, and baskets of fresh catches can be seen everywhere in the market. The fishmonger in a white apron and white rubber boots has the face of a businessman, flicking the crushed ice and shouting that it is cheap and fresh, so act fast, it will be gone in a few days.

The checkered wooden tray is full of fresh small anchovies, and the slippery ones seem to slip out of the basin if you don’t pay attention. The thin and round body of the fish is shining with a silvery luster. Take off the head of the fish, slide your fingers down, and the extremely elastic fish flesh is opened like a book. Carefully pick up the long thorns of the fish from the head and remove the internal organs. Only the red and tender fish, which is slightly larger than half a palm, is left in the oily hand. It’s mouth-watering just looking at it before it’s cooked. It was the first time in my life to see fresh anchovies that had just been caught ashore. The head removed was about the same size as the peeled sardines, but it seemed a little smaller.

It was a small fishing port town facing the Atlantic Ocean. There was a bar-cum-restaurant with no obvious sign downstairs in a row of old buildings. Loud voices surround the old log bar, and most gourmets come for the fresh ingredients and the chef’s craftsmanship. The experienced proprietress brought out plates of seafood and various small fish snacks one after another. A few beams of halogen halo illuminated the colorful dots in the rows of glass covers, and the arrangement was very beautiful. In a conspicuous place on the bar counter, there is an anchovies in grape vinegar served with minced garlic. It is a small rolled fish with dark green olives, a small piece of red bell pepper, and half a boiled egg. It is an unwritten rule here that guests hold bamboo sticks in front of the bar and put them into their mouths in one bite, and every face that smiles is full of happiness. There is also a plate of fried small fish wrapped in a thin batter. It is golden and crispy, soft and tender, and it is full of delicious juice after one bite. If you want to have bread, you can pick it up from the bamboo basket at the bar without extra charge, and with a glass of wine, you only need to spend a few copper coins, which is both fair and affordable.

The plump proprietress pours wine neatly, chats and laughs loudly with guests, distributes small fish, and collects money for change. It’s fast and neat, and there’s no mistake about which customer ordered what.

She was busy in and out, bringing out exciting dishes from time to time, but sometimes she just repeated the previous dishes. Suddenly someone let out a small exclamation. It turned out that the kitchen brought a plate of light white and green chicory, a kind of sweet and slightly bitter lettuce. Peeled leaflets like boats have been poured with blue cheese sauce “roquefort cream,” and a brown salted anchovies are placed. Soft tones, rich cheese, slightly bitter chicory, and salty fish aroma, it is an indescribably wonderful combination.

I have no hobbies but love to eat, no matter what I eat, it tastes delicious. Others see me eating with great enthusiasm, and I am happy to call myself a glutton. Earlier, I heard that this cheap restaurant is very famous for its anchovy dishes. This time, I specially invited a few Taiwanese students to try it together.

The plate of half-cooked small fish marinated in vinegar tasted a bit sour, and made all those who were afraid of sour taste into squinting eyes. On the other hand, small fish is paired with cheese. No one has any objection to the strong milky aroma, and everyone nods in approval. Not to mention the freshly fried golden fish. Crispy and crispy, soft and tender, everyone’s mouth was full of oil, and even the girls ordered a second serving. I couldn’t help feeling proud of this gourmet trip, and then we entered the country and threw the wiped paper on the ground to show our approval for the store. I squeezed through the noisy crowd to the bar, thanked the proprietress during the checkout interval, and praised her signature fried anchovies loudly. She wiped her hand and kitchen towel over her shoulders, tilted her head and stared at me suspiciously, thinking about it, “No sir, what you ordered just now was fried sardines.”

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