The history of the Cornish Sardine is interesting when you look at its place in the world of good food.
The sardine has inhabited this planet longer than mankind and has been food all of that time!
Often, millions of years before mankind discovered they could successfully capture these tasty little fish, large sea predators and mammals fed and preyed upon these little fish when they shoaled in balls.
These shoals or balls can contain numerous tonnes of these tasty morsels.
The worlds' predators (including man) have enjoyed the arrival of these little silver, blue fish at various times in various places all over this planet.
Sardine seasons happen all over the world and various dishes and traditions have been born out of these manifestations.
The grilled sardine is a seasonal delight world wide. In Cornwall the sardine (pilchard one and the same) grilled, salted, smoked has been a food source for thousands of years.
The good old English language invented a word that condemned the sardines in Britain to either tins or a derogatory nick name. This name is Pilchard. Whilst this name in itself is ancient; it has not translated well into the 21st century and fortunately DEFRA and the EU gave permission to change the fish name Pilchard to the Cornish sardine.
The sardine, when fresh, makes a very tasty food grilled either whole or filleted. As additions to the simple grilled sardine, fresh bread and butter is always good but an ancient sauce to compliment the delicious fish is simply made and has a peculiar name ..... "The cat's whiskers"
It is made from cider vinegar, mustard and fresh cream.
Now this sauce can be traced back to the time of the Tudors, possibly before.
I am very lucky to have been brought up in a family that has been in the fishing industry for over 250 years and this sauce recipe has been passed down the generations.
It made its latest public appearance last evening when Indulgence Catering made lots of mixed Cornish tapas for a wine tasting.
We grilled sardine fillets on bruschetta with "the cat's whiskers".
They went down a treat! All asked "is that a new sauce?" They could not believe this sauce has been around for so long and they had never tasted it before?
By the way, the Cornish sardine season runs from July to January