When I left Paris for California, I couldn't get sardines off my mind. I bought them whenever I saw them. I grilled garlic-rubbed whole sardines and finished them with salsa verde. Sometimes I braised them in olive oil with vegetables to eat alongside watercress or arugula. In time, my experimentation led me to the canned sardines I'd previously avoided. Mixed with celery, onion, lemon juice, and mayonnaise, they rivaled my standard tuna salad. I played with endless pasta sauces, tossing the fish with olive oil, onion, garlic, and two or three other ingredients—tomatoes, olives, capers, currants, celery, fennel, chives, or chiles—plus toasted bread crumbs for crunch. I even threw the canned ones in the food processor; mixed with cream cheese, lemon, and Tabasco, they made a tasty party spread. No matter how I prepared them, I loved them.