Of Canned Salmon

Who knew a can of salmon could hold so many memories? I don’t remember the can clearly enough to know if Aldi has changed the label in past 12 years. It’s not until I open it that the smell, the feel and especially the bones, remind me that I’ve done this many times before.

My mother decided we should eat more fish, because it had good fats in it. On a limited food budget, and with my father not liking fish, this meant canned salmon.

Once a month at Aldi we added four cans of salmon to our shopping cart, one for each week.

Once a week we would open a can of salmon. We always crushed the bones into the meat of the fish. They had calcium, my mother said. They were good for you. I’d pop a couple of vertabrae into my mouth as I crushed the bones, trying to decide if I like the strange soft-crunchy and slightly gritty texture or not. I never quite decided, but I never missed a chance to eat a few.

And then, we turned them into salmon patties. I didn’t know you could do anything else with canned salmon.

Who knew years later I would stand in my own kitchen many miles away, open an Aldi can of salmon and crush the bones as I drop the salmon into a sunshiny pot of chowder? (Who knew that I could possibly add a handful of the despised mushrooms to my already near-sacrilegious chowder?) And who knew that canned salmon was a reliable and unchanging presence in a world that never stays the same for long?

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