Espeto de sardinas

Where Does One Go For A Taste Of Sardines? A Historical Pleasure

Where Does One Go For A Taste Of Sardines? A Historical Pleasure

One the first things to tourists think of when they hit the beaches of Marbella and Andalucia in general are the famous “bars” and beach restaurants serving delicious seafood just steps from sea. If there is one dish in particular stands out among the rest, it has to be sardines cooked on a spit, though its not available just anywhere. A true gastronomic treasure in Southern Spain, sardines cooked like this are no new by any means.

Ever since the Roman times, sardines have been prized as seafood sun dried with salt and used to manufacture a sauce called Garum. This paste, which was all the rage as a “seasoning star” was packed into jars and shipped across the sea to Rome where the prized delicacy fetched a high asking price!

No less important were the use of sardines during the region’s Muslim era. Reputable historians like  Ibn-Al Jativ, who was born in Granada in the fourteenth century, wrote that “Marbella’s fish population is rich in numbers, especially sardines and fish of a certain size…”. In another of his books, he wrote that it had interested the Emir Al-Haken to know the value of those sardines that were consumed each day in the city of Cordoba – the capital of the emirate. This amount reached 20,000 dinars; an extraordinary amount, which highlighted the importance of sardines in the local Muslim diet at that time.

Travelling through time, we find another ‘chronicler of the Sardine’, the historian Pedro Vazquez. He was a famous priest who was born in and lived in Marbella in the 18th century. In his book, “The Conjectures of Marbella”, Vazquez recounts the many species of fish that could be found off the coast of Marbella, including the oysters, lobsters, crabs and clawed lobsters. Many of them, according to the author, would wash up on shore after storms.

Today, these fish and all similar species (sardines, anchoives or tuna) are highly valued for their contribution to a healthy diet, including high levels of Omega 3, fatty acids that are important to our cardiovascular health.

We’ll finish with a bit of history, including a little wisdom that recommends eating sardines in the months that do not contain the letter “r”. So, this May, June or July, don’t hesitate when you’re near the sea and indulge in a little ‘historic’ pleasure with a taste of wonderful sardines.

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