About Beth

Beth, along with her husband, Mike, is co-owner of two Italian Deli/Markets in St. Louis - Viviano’s Festa Italiano. When not creating yummy new menu items for the deli, she’s the pediatric research lab supervisor at Washington University School of Medicine. Read more out about Viviano’s Festa Italiano.

About Irene

Irene loves to think, read and dream about food. She enjoys cooking & eating in general. Although she demures about her talents, Irene has a finely-tuned palate that her friends envy. She bakes on occasion. The rest of the time she's creating memories with her family and friends. . . or she's learning a new needlecraft technique.

About Deborah

Deborah is a wife, mother, grandmother, traveler, bootlegger, and a very poor speller! As Victor Hazan so eloquently puts it, Deborah has chosen Umbria to be the home of her soul. When she can’t be there in body, she spends her free time cooking & reading about Italy. She blogs mostly about food and about trips – past and future – here: Old Shoes New Trip.

About Doug

Doug lives in Eastern Ontario in a farmhouse built in 1903. He is a retired teacher with four adult children, a wife, a son-in-law, two Irish step-grandchildren and one grandson who he is lucky to hang with a lot. He has way too many books. Doug also blogs at To Slow Time Down.

About Cindy

Cindy lives in Eagle River, Alaska where her freezer is always full of salmon, halibut & shrimp. Cindy participates in several regular cooking challenges. You can read more about her cooking and life in the last frontier on her blog, Baked Alaska.

About Sandi

Sandi is a true Southerner, but a traveler & Italian cook at heart. She lives in Alabama and knows more about fried green tomatoes than fricassees. Her family owned the WhistleStop Café for many years. Sandi also blogs at Whistlestop Cafe Cooking.

About Jan

Jan, a serious home cook, has owned “Essentials” since 1992. She is passionate about all things Italian, especially the cuisine & the language. Jan blogs about her travels (next trip Italy May/June of 2010) at: Keep your Feet in the Street.

About Jerry

Jerry is a food obsessed Canadian. He learned to love Italian food as a child while eating the meals prepared by his Napolitano uncle. He learned to cook Italian foods by watching his uncle cook these feasts for the family. This love of Italian food has been honed through serious personal experimentation in eating and cooking. Willing to try most anything once, Jerry isn't so sure about tripe! Jerry also blogs at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!

About Palma

Palma is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Palm Desert, CA. She’s an Italian-American with a passion for cooking, entertaining, & travel to Italy. She’s always planning her next culinary adventure to Italia on her blog, Palmabella's Passions

About Kim

Kim is our permanent sub and the image above gives you a good idea of the look on her face when she realized she was drafted. Kim loves to eat, drink, travel and cook - probably in that order. When she's not here, you can find her organizing and leading food, wine and beer tours in Europe as co-owner and operator of GrapeHops or blogging at What I Really Think.

« Fish Sauce | Main | Baked Pasta con le Sarde with Toasted Almonds »

Sicilian Sardine Sauce


This week’s ingredient list is eclectic. The star ingredient is sardines which I will admit I was less than enthusiastic about. Fennel tops, raisins, onion, anchovy fillets, pine nuts, saffron, tomato paste, and bread crumbs round out the supporting ingredients. This is going to be something. I reminded myself about the pledge I took and started cooking.

After a series of food preparation steps and cooking techniques the sauce was ready. With all of the independently flavorful foods present only the raisins and sardines seemed to shine through. The small amount of raisins didn’t taste like raisins at all but gave all their sweetness to the sauce. Beyond that it just tasted fishy to me. Yes, I know it was made with fresh sardines and anchovies but the result was more powerful than I expected. The fennel used was extremely fragrant but you would never guess it was in there. I tasted it repeatedly to look for more distinction but found none. I had hoped to eat a whole serving since it was tossed with my beloved bucatini. I tried to like it…I could not. This is a recipe I will not make again. However, I would taste it once more if prepared by someone that is good at preparing Sicilian cuisine so I can compare the two experiences.

©2010 Irene D. Ericson

Comments (4)

It had to happen eventually for you, Irene. It would be unreasonable to expect that we would cook through the entire cookbook and love every single dish.
That's why our tastes are different.
My dish for tomorrow is the same sauce only used in a baked pasta instead of tossed.
I'm not an expert on Sicilian cooking either, so we shall see how mine turns out.

I have had failures as well. In some cases, I have no doubt it was my execution or ingredients. I think in other cases it just comes down to taste. My girlfriend's uncle loves the taste of the sea for example. I only love it sometimes eg in fresh oysters or a beautifully cooked bit of fish.

I'm sorry it wasn't to your taste, but your honesty about the dish is appreciated. Hopefully you will love your next dish!

I love sardines and am lucky to be able to procure fresh ones easily and inexpensively.

Marcella Hazan:

Pasta con le Sarde is one of Sicily's most admired and complex dishes, but it has a deep, musky flavor that I can understand may not be agreeable to everyone at first. I wonder whether your sardines were really, really fresh. Sardines are the kind of fish that we call "azzurro" or blue, referring to the dark color of their flesh. Anchovies, mackerel, and the blue fish from Long Island are in the same group. They are oily fish and their oil turns rancid very rapidly. After I moved to Florida, I had such a yen for sardines, which can have more flavor than any other fish, that I very expensively ordered a couple of pounds of sardines that I was assured had just been flown in from the Mediterranean. They were Fed Exed from New York, I took one sniff, and threw them out. The best Pasta con le Sarde I ever had was cooked by the monsù, the private chef, of the owner of the great Regaleali winery in Sicily, the late Count Tasca.

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