Never has an edible living creature been so maligned as the sardine. We talk of being packed into small places like sardines (in fact, peeved rail users in England once protested overcrowding by sending sardines to transportation management), and we associate the little tins of fish with poverty. But this wasn’t always the case: sardines fished in the Pacific and packed at Cannery Row in Monterey, CA, were a major source of nutrition and revenue for the U.S. during the first half of the 20th century, before the industry collapsed thanks to overfishing. They’re packed with healthy omega-3 fats and low in heavy metals (e.g., mercury) because they’re the little guys on the food chain. Sardines, in other words, are a near perfect food, and you can find them packed simply in water at any old grocery store or gussied up in lemon-flavored EVOO at Whole Foods. Here are five versions we’ve got in our pantry right now.
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