Al-Qalam journalist Ismail Suder who doubles as an Instagrammer @jimny-go-afrika tells how he caught the Sardine Fever bug.
When “Sardine Fever” hit the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast this week, this Al Qalam newshound was there to scoop up the overflowing sardines that were freely being given away by the netters.
It’s not that I enjoy eating sardines, but the sight of thousands of fish flapping in the nets as they were dragged to shore, does something to the psyche that makes perfectly rationale people dive in and madly pick up the slippery fish as they fall out of the nets. I even saw one man wearing formal office clothes wade into the surf with his shiny pointed shoes to grab a few sardines which had slipped out of the nets. Such is “Sardine Fever” that it makes many people go into momentary frenzy. I included!
Others were so frenzied at the sight of the bubbling fish in the nets, they even abandoned their face masks as they poked their fingers through the seine nets for a sardine or two.
On the roadside at Illovo Beach where the sardines were being netted by the tons, sardines were being sold out of trucks for between R20 and R25 a dozen, but if you took a short walk onto the beach, you would finds mounds of sardines being given away for Mahala. Scores of people came with crates and plastic packets to take as much as they wanted. The netters had their full share and were happy for others to take away the surplus because they had exceeded their quota.
Silly me! I arrived on the beach without any containers. Packets were scarce so I had to make do with a 2 litre plastic bottle that I found on the shoreline. I cut off the top and voila! I had a decent receptacle to carry at least 20 sardines.
A word of advice though, if you are going to carry sardines in your car, be prepared for a stinky after-smell. As I drove home in my newish Suzuki Jimny 4×4, I asked myself ‘what on earth was I doing.’
The unpalatable thought of cleaning the smelly fish had put a damper on my earlier excitement.
But, there was NO getting away – cleaning HAD to be done .After spending the better part of an hour cleaning the gunk, I marinated the sardines (with olive oil, pepper, lemon juice, ground chillies and salt) and placed it in the fridge to be eaten the next day. But as any sardine connoisseur worth his salt will tell you, it is better to eat them fresh than to fridge them
But as I operate an INSTAGRAM channel called “@jimny-go-afrika”, I decided to travel to the picturesque Hazelmere Dam to braai – for the Gram of off course. There were some challenging moments when the fish kept slipping through the metal grid as I tried to turn the sizzling fish on the charcoal fire. With 20 fish on hand, I ended up with just six char-grilled fish. It was frustrating and hilarious at the same time. Even more challenging was when I had to photograph the sizzling fish with one hand and click the camera with the other.
Another hilarious moment was when I placed a table in knee-deep water, put a braai stand over it, and started to braai, only to find steel forks and spoons sliding and splashing into the water. Overall, it was a fun experience. As they say in the classics ‘Hey, I did it for the Gram man, I did it for the gram!
To see the full episode and other stories, go to my INSTAGRAM page at: @jimny-go-afrika and FOLOW and LIKE the channel for more weekly stories of adventure, camping and cooking. You can also listen to my sardine fever story on Markaz Sahaba online radio with host Shafa’at Khan from 8.30am this Saturday morning.