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Fish #52 European Pilchard Sardina pilchardus ~ Kate Sell
Glass mosaic 16 x 24 cm
Common names: European pilchard, Fair Maid, Pilchard, Sardine, Soused Pilchards, True Sardine, Cornish Sardine.
It is a small silvery shoaling fish found throughout Europe, particularly in the warmer waters of the Mediterranean and Adriatic seas, although it is also found around Britain and the colder waters of Scandinavian countries and Iceland. Varying in length between 15-20cm European pilchards are thought to live up to five years, close to shore and feed on small planktonic crustaceans. European pilchards are themselves a major source of food for all types of predatory fish and humans! They are also used as a commercial fishing bait on long-lines. However with this in mind, this species is classed as Least Concern by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature).
They are a highly nutritious oily fish and are perfect when fresh, grilled on the barbecue with olive oil, lemon and salt or served with a rich tomato sauce.
A traditional dish in Cornwall is the Stargazy Pie, so called because the pilchard heads are protruding out of the top pastry layer, looking as though they are gazing skyward. I'm sure it is delicious as I understand that the oils from the fish flow back into the pie during cooking but I am afraid I cannot cope with a fish looking up at me from the plate!
I found it interesting to read that there is a game called Sardines, a variation of Hide-and-seek that I played as a child. Rather than one person counting and the others hiding as in hide-and-seek, one person hides and when the others find the hidden person they hide in that space too until there is one person left who then becomes the one to hide on the next game! This relates to the popular English phrase 'packed like sardines' used where people or objects are crowded closely together in a small space refers to tinned or canned sardines.
Kate Sell, Designer & Maker. Taking inspiration from her garden and the Lincolnshire countryside Kate continues to develop her unique method of making glass mosaic mirrors. Her art pieces are guaranteed to become a favourite feature in any garden.
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