Monday, June 26, 2006

Animal of the Week June 26, 2006 -- World Cup Nations 3 (Portugal)

So, Portugal eh, apparently football is the national sport of Portugal, just as, after kabaddi, it is in England. But what about an animal to symbolise Portugal, welcome this week’s animal of the week Sardina pilchardus (sardine, sardinha [Portuguese]). Given England's love for these little beasts served from an iconic rectangular tin, you might be excused for thinking that they could be this nation's animal too, but herein lies the fundamental difference between these two outposts of western Europe, the Portuguese love them fresh.

In Portugal, 90% of the sardines are consumed not from a can, but straight from the sea. The way to eat your sardines is apparently simply grilled, preferably over charcoal served with boiled potatoes and a salad of grilled green peppers, basil, and olive oil, sounds delicious; I’m going to Hatt’s fishmonger first chance I get.

This celebration of the sardine in Portugal would have been more appropriate a couple of weeks ago, for June 13 was St Anthony’s feast day, when people take to the streets of Lisbon to feast on sardines cooked over open grills on the street. Sardine season lasts from April to November when the plumpest fish can be caught in abundance in the eastern Atlantic by the traditional Portuguese fisheries.

What is a sardine? Well, you may gather from the Latin name that Sardina pilchardus are actually pilchards, and the contents of your can of sardines and your can of pilchards are the same species, sardines are simply younguns. But what is a pilchard? In fact there are at least six species of fish called pilchard and at least 12 called just sardine. So it’s all rather complicated—but hey, they all look pretty much the same when barbecued or squished three to a can with tomato sauce.

As a nod to the wonderful country of Ecuador, here is a song about llamas Sorry if you have seen it before. I've watched it too many times and am numb to it now but if you've not seen it, well, you might be amused...or scared.

RIP Bruno


At 4:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

everyone always goes on about how brilliant sardines are but if it was my kid then I'd just prefer it if I knew where these people were and that the police were keeping a good eye on them.

At 2:23 PM, Blogger animaloftheweek said...

Anonymous, I think you might be confusing sardines with communists. HK

At 9:48 AM, Blogger animaloftheweek said...

I heard a great story about sardines at the weekend. A young engineer just graduating from University has sent out a heap of applications to engineering firms. She'd received a whirlwind of responses, had a slew of interviews, and second interviews, so much so that she was losing track of what was going on. She received a letter inviting her back for a second group interview at a perstigious firm. Along with the letter came an itinerary; however, she failed to read this carefully.

The group interview day was going well, the usual talks, tasks, and tours had all been accomplished satisfactorily, then towards the end of the day the interviewers announced "Now time for your presentations".

Our budding Brunel was thrown into confusion. She had failed to read on the itinerary about the presentation on leadership that each applicant had to give. The first person stood up and talked about captaining the football team, successive applicants talked about being head girl, leading the debate team, the usual CV guff. Eventually it came to the turn of our young graduate. She hadn't managed to get a grip on what the presentation should be about, in the blind panic she hadn't really listened to the others' talks and picked up on the theme, instead she had been wracking her brain to come up with a topic. A week or so before she had watched a documentary about sardines. It had been amazing, the fish from all over the ocean migrated to one spot to breed and where they gathered, huge numbers of predators congregated: seals, fish, sharks, gulls, and dolphins diving into massive balls of silvery sardines.

Before the bemused applicants and interviewers, for her talk supposedly about leadership, she summarised the documentary for ten minutes, detailing the amazing story of the sardines.

Only after, when talking to the other applicants did she get an idea that she had made a mistake, then later at home she checked the itinerary once more and realised the nature of her error.

Strangely, from her day, she was the only applicant to be offered a job.


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