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Marinated Sardines, Babies or No Babies

I’m going to be totally upfront with you: I don’t have a baby (surprise!). But a few of my friends have started having babies and, boy, is life different when you start to realize that people your age are having babies. I remember the first time I drove a car (my mom’s awesome hand-me-down Nissan Altima), I sat in the driver’s seat and craned my head out the window to look in the side mirror. I almost said out loud, “I’m. Driving. I’m driving a car! It’s me! In the driver’s seat! I can totally drive away from my parents’ house right now.” It was this completely surreal sensation of feeling really young but knowing I was doing something that older people do. I felt like I had snuck it past someone. Like someone was about to say, “Excuse me young lady, what do you think you’re doing?”

When I got engaged, I remember getting distracted in work meetings and just staring at my hand thinking, “I have a fiance. We are getting married. My last name will no longer be Fleisher.” Again, feeling super young, knowing I was doing something only older people do. I hope that I’m not the only one that feels this way (cause we’re being honest here and all) but man, having a baby changes everything. I see fellow bloggers drop off the face of the Earth. I see people move to the suburbs after spending years living in the city. I see people wear clothes because they have an elastic waistband, and not because they are stylish. And I see people ‘call it a night’ at 8 pm.

Sometimes I wonder if having a baby feels a lot like I felt when I was 16 and in the driver’s seat of my first car: if you look in the mirror to see if you’ll recognize yourself and where you’re sitting. I’ve been mentally preparing myself for life with more and more babies and reading blogs like A Cup of Jo to remind myself that you can have a baby and still be totally cool. And you can have a baby and have friends without babies. And you can not have a baby and be friends with people with babies. But I totally have this fear that babies are going to make us all take sides: the baby people on one side and the non-baby people on the other side.

The other week, I decided to try a new recipe that scared me a little: marinated sardines. To be honest, 1 tablespoon of vinegar didn’t sound like enough to actually marinate these sardines, so I added a little extra, but when we sat down to eat them, we were both perplexed. For some reason expecting the sardines to taste cooked, Matt and I both looked at each other, confused when we took our first bites: the marinated sardines were tender, almost sushi-like, with a light mint flavor and none of the saltiness that you taste when you eat them grilled. We were both slightly hesitant about eating them: are they ‘cooked’? Will we get sick? Thing is, we ate every last one of them, plain, on bread and crackers and they were absolutely delicious. Light, yet filling.

Guess all I’m saying is: baby or no baby, sardines or no sardines: it’ll be ok.

Marinated Sardines
adapted from My Nepenthe
*serves four

4 fresh sardines (have the fishmonger clean and fillet them for you)
1 garlic clove, sliced thinly
4 thin slices of lemon
leaves from 1 sprig of thyme
2 tablespoons of roughly chopped mint
1/4 cup of olive oil
3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
freshly ground pepper

1. Place the sardines in a shallow glass dish. Sprinkle them with thyme leaves, mint, and garlic. Top with lemon slices. Drizzle with oil and vinegar and season with pepper.
2. Cover the dish with a piece plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours, turning the sardines occasionally to make sure they marinate evenly. The sardines will keep for up to one day, covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator.
3. Serve them alongside bread and/or crackers. They’re completely edible (including the skin).

Musical Pairings: Mikal Cronin – Mikal Cronin + Marinated Sardines

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Posted by Kasey

Kasey is the food editor and co-founder of Turntable Kitchen. She loves dark chocolate, warm crusty bread, and traveling to new places. She speaks Russian, but does not like vodka.

  • My little sister just had a baby (the first grandchild for our family) and I had that same feeling. MY LITTLE SISTER, gave birth, to a baby. Crazy. She is a mom. It feels so weird. 🙂

  • Hannah Simon

    Totally agree with you on the baby people vs. the no-baby people! But my boss just had a baby and was back in action 3 weeks later, never missing a beat. I think she’s secretly Super Woman or runs on electricity instead of sleep or something, but seems like it can work. It’s still 10 years off for me though. I can’t fathom raising a child when I still feel like one most of the time 🙂

  • Ashley

    Having babies is totally cool. 😉

  • Lately it seems like everywhere I turn someone else is announcing that they’re pregnant. That’s the same thing that happened with marriage announcements when I was not-yet engaged. I totally know how you feel!
    These are scary steps in life and not to be taken likely, much like dealing with fresh sardines! That would be as foreign to me at having a baby right now…maybe I should try it.

  • Ahh, the big babies debate. They definitely change things, but just getting older changes us too. So far we’ve haven’t needed to take sides in the baby debate. The one big change is that I do like to go out dinner much, much earlier than before, even when the kid and baby aren’t with me. As for sardines, I’ve had mixed results, but I want to keep trying since they’re such a great fish. Your recipes sounds wonderful–looking forward to giving it a try.

  • I’m right there with you, Kasey, and you articulated things so nicely.

    Leave it to you to make sardines so pretty! Sounds so easy, too.

  • This post is the perfect example of why Turntable Kitchen is one of my favorite places to visit online!

  • Wow, Brian, I am super flattered. Thank you!

  • I am so glad we understand each other! Also, sardines are really pretty!! I’d say, one of the prettier fish out there. And, they are SUPER easy. Take the plunge!

  • Elizabeth, you make a very good point: getting older totally changes us, too. I’ve heard from friends that, with all the chaos and changes, they wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’ve also had mixed results with sardines in the past (sometimes they are too salty, or the skin isn’t crispy) but this recipe is really simple. Just make sure to get the best, freshest sardines you can get your hands on!

  • You make it look easy, Ashley! Your babies are beautiful 🙂

  • I love hearing stories like this! Though, some people clearly run on electricity…Those women amaze me! Clearly, there’s no rush 🙂

  • It’s totally crazy. But, I bet no matter what your little sister does, she’ll always be your ‘little’ sister 🙂

  • Ha, “that would be as foreign to me as having a baby” – well put, Rachel! But hey, making sardines isn’t quite as big of a commitment 😉

  • I was 27 when one of my close girlfriends had her first kid. She was the first in our group to start a family so we kinda went through the experience with her, from the time she discovered she was pregnant till she went into labor. We talked about it alot, which helped demystify the whole process. It was very surreal at that time, just as you described, but it also brought us closer together as friends. 5 years on, and surrounded with more friends who are starting families, I think about this alot. Babies certainly make you take sides, at least that’s what I’ve seen, but whether you allow having a baby to change the friends you hang out with is an entirely personal choice. Either way, it’s going to be alright, as you eloquently put it 🙂

  • Megan J

    Ha! Love the post Kasey – I know that feeling exactly. In Columbus, even though we live 5 mins from the city, I feel like there are babies everywhere. There have been 6 in my circle of friends in the past year! I certainly don’t feel old enough for that. And sardines? Probably not around here being landlocked as such, but when we go to Spain next month, I plan to try some there.

  • Danielle, I think these are some very wise words, and I agree, that a lot of changes do stem from people making personal choices that are probably strongly tied to where they are in their lives. I think this time in our lives is definitely a transitional one and there will inevitably be people who choose to stand beside you, or walk away for whatever reason – baby or not! xo

  • Hey Megan! So nice to see you here 🙂 It’s funny how it all hits at once: I’ve been to 8 weddings in the past 2 years! I expect that the next 5 will be filled with more weddings and babies. Enjoy Spain and definitely eat a lot of sardines….and jambon! Hope to see you this winter!

  • Meganjgordon

    Ahh, Kasey. So timely. Just got back from a writing conference where we were all talking about babies. I’m convinced something happens to you once you hit 32 (which, I know, you’ve got a few years…). Anyway, I loved this post and find myself thinking a similar thing with many of my friends. Then I tell myself we live in a city where lots of couples have children wayyyy later. Or some not at all. Anyway, I’m babbling. It’s been on my mind, too…

  • Hi Megan! I’ve been thinking about this (as you may know) for a very long time and I thought it was finally time to share a little bit of it on the site. It’s nice to know so many friends relate to this feeling. We all have to make the choices that are right to us, when the the time is right. xo

  • I kind of love that most of my friends have gotten a later start on child-rearing. I don’t think there’s anything harder or more rewarding – you shouldn’t begrudge those tired moms their little comforts in life! 🙂 (The elastic, that is.) I don’t see myself ever moving to the suburbs, but who knows how I’ll feel in another ten years.

  • Kimberley, I certainly do not begrudge. Just sayin’ that it’s a mental shift. You can bet that I’d be doing the same thing! I also don’t have anything against the burbs. I grew up in the burbs and truth be told, often miss the clean and comfortable lifestyle there.

  • Achowlife

    I’m not as cool as Joanna Goddard, but I can tell you that having a baby is super cool and wonderful. It’s VERY scary and VERY hard, but I adore my little one. Not quite like driving that car at 16 because it actually makes me feel a bit old. However, just as daunting and exciting. I love the recipe! xo

  • Allison@Peasepudding

    I love this recipe, I really miss sardines ( not the tinned variety of course) we don’t get them here in NZ and there isn’t a fish that is like them.

  • Oh you are pretty darn cool! You seem so, so happy. And your little one is a cutie pie! xo

  • Hi Allison! They’ve become really popular around these parts…esp because they’re a local fish, and, as far as I know, pretty sustainable!

  • Emily_weinert

    My husband made these over the weekend and they were so good! Unfortunately, the fishmonger–I won’t name names!–wouldn’t fillet the sardines for us because they said they were too small and my husband had a little bit of a hard time with that, but they turned out great anyway. Thanks for the recipe. I love, love, love sardines!

  • I’m so glad to hear that you made them and enjoyed them! Sorry to hear you had trouble with the filleting – I bought mine at Whole Foods and they were quite accommodating.

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