Saved by sardines

It seems that lately I am always biting off more than I can chew, but I think it is symptomatic of birthday season (or actually, of Baki’s birthday, which never seems to end). Baki had a semester break, so we went up to Istanbul for a few days so the boys could see their grandmother and celebrate Baki’s birthday with Ali’s family. On our first day there, we went to the tulip gardens in Emirgan park.Image

It was a glorious spring day, and we were surrounded by thousands of tulips in full bloom. Every great city has spaces where you can forget everything, and Emirgan park is definitely one of those places. It was like something out of a fairy tale. Kaya loved all of the flowers, and wanted to smell them all. Baki declared himself thoroughly bored. (Though he did perk up when we encountered swans in the pond.)


But for some reason, even though we got our trip off to the best possible start, the whole thing felt a bit like swimming in quicksand. I just felt stressed out while we were in the city and had the sense that I was fighting it all the time. The kids were bouncing off the walls, high on sugar and too much TV, and I never seemed to get anything done. It was wonderful to see everyone, and we had a lovely little party for Baki, but mostly I felt really frazzled.

Ali picked us up at the airport yesterday, with me nearly kissing the ground I was so happy to be back. We packed Baki off to school this morning and went out to the garden, stopping, as we always do on Mondays, at the market in Kemer. I stock up on vegetables for the garden and for the apartment, and always stop by the fishmonger – Mondays mean fish for lunch. Now while I was in Istanbul, Ali’s mom and I would sit and have tea before the boys got up and one morning we got to talking about fish because we always eat fish while I am there. I mentioned to her that I had gotten some fresh sardines at the market not too long ago and she said that I ought to cook them in the oven with a bit of olive oil and lemon juice. Well that sounded really good, so I got a kilo of sardines, which the fishmonger cleaned for me, even taking out the backbones. And I took them to my kitchen, which is now scented by white wisteria.


I shaved an onion on my deadly mandoline, laid the sardines on top, put some more onions over them for good measure, then scattered some lemon peel around. I poured on the juice of one lemon and some olive oil, sprinkled on a bit of salt, and baked the whole thing for about 20 minutes at 200C. With leftover stuffed grape leaves from Baki’s party and a big salad, it was just the thing to restore my sanity.Image

Sardines to the rescue!


11 thoughts on “Saved by sardines

  1. How lovely that you can purchase fresh sardines and have it cleaned and boned, your treatment of the fish sounds absolutely delicious.
    That is a gorgeous wisteria, we are still waiting for the weather to get a bit warmer.

    1. The oven is my favorite place to cook fish! Your winter sounds like it’s been a real slog, but it seems like it’s finally over. I’m looking forward to seeing what spring brings to your garden.

  2. I’ll second Norma. It’s great that you can buy sardines fresh and cleaned like that. The only sardines I’ve seen are frozen or canned. With them, you prepared a really nice lunch, one that I surely would have enjoyed.
    I’ve a blue wisteria in my yard and love how it scents the area. Such a nice part of Spring and something to look forward to.

    1. It’s funny, I was sulking about not being able to find tinned sardines when I realized I could get fresh ones! I wish I could have had you over to eat with us beneath the wisteria. I love the way that wisteria looks fancy, like ball gowns. Not to mention their heavenly scent…

  3. Lovely, beautiful lunch, i think you were just missing the garden, your outside kitchen leaves me, as usual, drunk with envy..siobhan would you like to email me, I am working on a book and I would like your input if you have the time and I cannot find your email address.. I am sure I had it once.. have a gorgeous day!..c

  4. That wisteria looks so lovely. I wish I could smell it. There is a new Comme des Garçons perfume out called Wisteria Hysteria, but it doesn’t really smell like what it is called.

    Lovely flowers in this post overall!

    PS. I am afraid to report that the other day I may have sent Baki back home with your mom with a gigantic sugar high! We had an ice cream challenge, with my favorite place pitted against his favorite place. Ice cream (massive amounts) consumed in both places.

    The results? It looks like we have a draw!

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