Do not. Say “ew.” I mean it. Don’t look at an anchovy, or even at the anchovy option in the pizza place you’re lucky enough to have serving up the hairy little fillets with any kind of disdain. Why? Because I know you love Caesar salad. And you crave pad thai in your sleep. I too crave pad thai in my sleep, you’re not alone. You liked pasta puttanesca the first time you tried it. I have a feeling we have a lot in common.
We like bloody marys, especially ones bold enough to tack on the word “ultimate.” We slather steak with steak sauce and barbecue with barbecue sauce. Why? Because it tastes good. And why do these beloved things all taste good? Umami. From anchovies. In the form of Worcestershire or Asian fish sauce (if you were wondering what made them tasty). Or, in the case of the classic Caesar, straight up.
Anchovies are among the least understood of fish, right up there with the oily and unpopular sardine (not my words, I love the things) and legitimately frightening (and largely inedible) piranha…at least in the States. In Asia, anchovies’ salty little spirits live on in the broth of any soup you consume, especially in Korea. I haven’t taken a trip to Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, North Africa or South India without experiencing them in their stark naked entirety. Not lurking in my bottomless brunch cocktail, mashed into salad dressing or fermented into sauce. Just me and a ‘chovy, face to face. Sometimes in a spicy curry or hearty stew, sometimes rolled around a caper, lying atop a lemon slice next to a massive portion of schnitzel. Usually served with booze.
Granted, the above fish are not skinny little shreds from a dusty can. Those you can somewhat turn your nose up at, but, well-rinsed, will still turn romaine into Caesar in a pinch. The anchovies I’m describing are freshly-caught, and if preserved at all, hang out in nice olive oil in a glass jar. These are miraculous on a sandwich (talk about an ultimate grilled cheese) and enable you to really taste your pizza in a way that plain old salt never could. You do really want to taste your pizza…don’t you? Take this lunch love with a fillet of anchovy, and never look back.