Tuesday, 28 February 2012


Sardines on toast. Mmm...?
Recently, I read Alton Brown's Good Eats 3: The Later Years cover-to-cover, set it down, and pondered one of the episodes, "Live and Let Diet," about Mr. Brown's weight loss revolution. I've always been a stocky guy, over 15 stone for probably half my life. About five years ago I hit my high water mark: two hundred fifty big fat pounds. Mind you, I didn't really look that heavy; I've never looked my weight, much to the chagrin of amusement park midway folk. But 250 was a number I didn't want staring at me. And what if I kept gaining weight? Enough was enough, and I was able over the course of the next year to lose twenty pounds, which I have kept off, thankfully. I have since set my sights lower, to a good, clean 15 stones. (210 lbs; I use stones, the colloquial British weight, because "15" is a good number for me.) This number has been harder to reach, as my love of food has grown and become more varied over time. Which brought me to AB's method...

Alton Brown's Four Lists (From Dr. Oz's website. Not something I endorse, necessarily; it just lays everything out nicely. Incidentally, cauliflower and tofu are not on AB's lists.)

I tried it once before, but didn't really throw myself into it. I didn't like most of the things on the must-eat lists, such as avocado, broccoli, and most dark leafy greens, and I didn't keep track of my food habits well. This time, I'm ready. I've grown to like everything on the requisite lists. And I'm a better cook than I was the first time.

One "application" (as AB calls his recipes) I couldn't get into was his Sherried Sardine Toast. Sardines, along with salmon, trout, mackerel, and (fresh) tuna, belong to the larger family of oily fish, on AB's "three times a week" list. But I couldn't justify skipping it because of my preconceived notions about sardines. I enlisted my wife's help in eating the things (I wasn't going in alone), and so I went for it.

Alton Brown's Sherried Sardine Toast application

Spent avocado.
With trepidation, we smeared the avocado on the toast and dolloped the odd sardine mixture on top. With hesitation, we brought the prepared toast to our lips and bit down. Chew, swallow, repeat. It wasn't bad. It didn't shout out at us, or seduce us into eating more, but it also didn't scold us for having such a stupid idea or, worse, make us sick. It was neutral. My wife said something like, "I am completely indifferent." So, we ate all four slices. (We prepared half a recipe, using all the avocado and four slices of bread. We also only put the sardines on two slices to start, just in case we needed to abandon ship and have something "normal" to eat. We ended up putting it on the other two as well.)

It's hard to say whether or not we'll try it again. I mean, we weren't wowed, but at the same time we weren't driven away. We do have another can of sardines in the pantry, just waiting for its moment to shine. Maybe someday, little guys. But for now, perhaps I'll focus my oily fish efforts on salmon and trout. (Please, check the sustainability of your fish before buying!)

(Also, if you're looking for a good snack, AB's Ginger Almonds, also from the "Live and Let Diet" episode, are quite delish.)

Title inspiration: (Takes a breath) The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade (or Die Verfolgung und Ermordung Jean Paul Marats dargestellt durch die Schauspielgruppe des Hospizes zu Charenton unter Anleitung des Herrn de Sade) is a play by Peter Weiss whose title is usually shortened to Marat/Sade. (Whew!) Premiered at Schillertheater in Berlin on 29 April 1964.

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