When in Lisbon

Had I known how hard it would be to get canned fish and sardines from Portugal here in New York, I would have stocked up way more in Lisbon this summer.

To be honest, I was never a big fan of sardines. Canned tuna is pretty much the only sea creature I don't like, and I always chalked this up to, well, the canning of the fish. Something in that process makes perfectly good tuna taste like cat food, and that's just not for me.

But before a trip to Lisbon last summer, where I knew canned sardines were practically a national treasure, I decided in the spirit of Anthony Bourdain to embrace a fuck-it-I'll-try-it sort of mindset, and would therefore, be trying any sardine/salted/canned little baitfish that was put in front of me.


I dove into sardines, mussels, tuna and pretty much whatever my stomach would allow. At first, this meant a plate of oily garlic salted sardines down in Portimao that tasted pretty good, but left me reeling with indigestion all night. The vino verde didn't help.

Later on though, back in Lisbon, I found the good stuff. The canned stuff. The tuna and smoked mussels they have at Conserveira de Lisboa and a Comur outpost called the O Mundo Fantástico das Conservas Portuguesas (The Fantastic World Of Portuguese Sardines) were fantastic. These are the kind of preserved goods that make you feel things.


I visited the Conserveira de Lisboa at the Time Out Market, a worthy stop in itself, and that's where most of these photos were taken. The Fantastic World Of Portuguese Sardines was one-part sardine shop and one-part Instagram magnet. Because of a live-in-the-moment kind of thing I was trying out, I actually didn't photograph it, but it was visually stimulating and proved later, when I got back home and peeled back the first can of fish we got there, to be a very worthy stop.

As I now sit in Brooklyn, down to my last few cans, I’m searching for canned fish from both of these brands on Amazon and Google. But, as it turns out, they’re hard to find. I guess these incredibly packable and well-preserved products don't got exported, or at least not that I can find. Which I guess is my way of saying, if you're in Lisbon, please bring back some sardines for me.