Since times immemorial all the people of the Mediterranean have for centuries been eating sardines, a fish that is both tasty and easy to digest. During lean years, sardines were one of the few available sources of protein while also being rich in carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and unsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 amino acids. This has ensured sardine’s place in art as well, the fish is celebrated to this day. Since it is one of the cheapest fish on the domestic market, it is often the first choice when a fish course needs to make an appearance on the dinner table.
Salted, fried or grilled, the sardine goes excellently with a glass of fine wine and is a proper coastal specialty. My granny knew this, so she’d always buy a lot of it every time there would be sardines at the local market. Any leftovers from lunch she’d marinate and serve for breakfast in the days to follow. This made “savoury sardines” my favourite sardine dish because its scents of the sea, rosemary, garlic and vinegar brings back memories of childhood.
Today, sardines are less and less prepared by grannies and more and more by prominent restaurant chefs, wishing to present it in a new way to the public by combining it with various local ingredients. Since the entire west Istrian coast is one of the most important sardine fishing regions in the Adriatic, it’s no wonder that this is precisely the spot in Istria where you’ll find a plethora of interesting things related to sardines. Let your next Istrian visit take you down the trail of the sardine: starting from southwest, in Fažana, where you can visit the unique Park Srdela, a collection of sculptures dedicated to the tasty fish, and bringing your adventure to a close in Novigrad, at the very tip of Northwestern Istria and its Srdelafest on September 8th, a culinary festival dedicated to sardine dishes.