Wednesday, June 6, 2012
The Anchovy Aversion
Many people dislike or think they dislike anchovies. One of my friends said that her husband would not let an anchovy pizza into his car. Pity. These folks are missing something good.
When I was a teenager, I ate them often as part of a simple spread that my parents either served with crackers or stuffed inside of celery. The spread was made from softened cream cheese whipped together with a bit of softened butter. Then crushed anchovies were added and a generous pinch of caraway seed. The spread was allowed to age for an hour or so to blend the flavors, and the result was a rich, creamy filling that most people enjoyed. However, when asked, they could never determine what ingredient gave the spread such a unique and satisfying taste.
Apparently, I'm not the only one who likes anchovies. Cooking star Rachel Ray considers them a pantry staple and features them in many dishes. I guess I do, too.
Most people associate anchovies with pizza, which is too bad. For one, the anchovies slapped onto a pizza are often of inferior quality. They may smell awful and taste as bad. Secondly, you don't need to eat the whole fish unadorned to benefit from its flavor. In many dishes, anchovies are blended into the other ingredients so thoroughly that their identity is hidden. Worcestershire sauce, for example, gets much of its flavor from anchovies. In certain Caesar salads, anchovies are an invisible part of the dressing. The same goes for green goddess dressing, olive tapenade, and pasta puttenesca.
So please don't turn up your nose at these little fish unless you've tried them in something other than pizza.