[English] plural pilchards

Pilchards are just grown up sardines. Having said that, these lovely fish were a mainstay of trade in Cornwall. Caught in huge quantities, they would be smoked or tinned (US: canned) in oil or tomato and were a staple of the British diet in my youth. Pilchards on toast was a nutritious and filling meal on many an occasion. But also a classic of that time was salted pilchard, with pilchards laid out in a circle, tails overlapping, in balsa wood boxes, salted down and shipped across Europe where, as ever with fish, they were more popular than in the UK. The British then could just about tolerate their fish tinned, or as a paste, but the idea of anything much other than cod on a Friday (usually frozen) was rarely tolerated! how things have changed. Sadly, the bottom fell out of the pilchard market but some bright spark has rebranded them as ‘Cornish sardines’ and they are really sought after again.

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