I have to admit, when I saw this week’s French Fridays with Dorie, I wanted, more than anything to really like it, to be pleasantly surprised, to find a new gem to add to the menu. I have never eaten a sardine, and when I peeled back the tin top, my reaction should have warned me about what was to come. The scaly, biology-experiment looking floaters in olive oil surprised me, but I soldiered on. My faith in Dorie is complete, and I figured there had to be a reason that people would voluntarily eat this stuff.
I deboned (thank you biology dissection classes), and even scraped off some of the scaly skin. Just before I added the fish, I tasted the base of minced onion, pepper, lemon juice and cilantro combined with cream cheese. It was lovely, so I hoped that sardines would boost the flavor, add some saltiness, round out the dish.
I wasn’t prepared for the color — a rather intimidating gray — or the smell, once the fish was mashed and stirred into the rest of the spread. Even more, after the evening of chilling, the aroma of fish that engulfed my kitchen about knocked me out. I was a good sport, and spread some of the rillette on my homemade whole wheat honey bread. I raised the bread to my mouth, took a bite filled with hope and gusto, and did my best to chew and swallow. After one bite, I hoped that someone else might be pleasantly surprised, so I wrapped it and put it back in the frig. I was reminded of the days of forced liver-eating.
How do we react when things aren’t quite what we hoped? I suppose it is good that we try. Good that we are optimistic about the outcome, wanting to enjoy, partake, be fulfilled. Sometimes, though, as I have recently been telling my students, things aren’t quite what you hoped or planned, and you have to make the best of a challenging situation.
Our girls soccer team has recently faced such a struggle. Unfortunately, the lesson they learned is NOT one of resilience in the face of “things not quite being what they hoped.” They essentially ran out an experienced and solid coach, mostly because they couldn’t deal with his tactics. He is an old school yeller kind of coach. When I coached, I was not a yeller, and I didn’t subscribe to that philosophy, but I also know that if you want to be involved in athletics, sometimes, you have to deal with the yellers and make the best of it.
I am dismayed that like my sardines, which after all, are just a bunch of dead fish, the coach of this team was tossed aside.
The sardine rillettes reminded me that sometimes, we just don’t like things, and that it is okay, as long as we are willing to make the effort, to give new things a chance. We should be resilient about the real challenges in life, but perhaps tossing the sardine rillettes was really the only option once it was clear that no one in our family could stomach the stuff.