Flavours of the sea

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The straining of anchovies in Cetara (slow Food Presidium)

The ancient Romans named it Garum: it was a sauce made by fish guts and it was used for flavoring dishes during imperial banquets.

The descendant of the Garum is considered the anchovies straining, born in the little port of Cetara, a maritime village on the Amalfi coast.

This sauce is an amber-colored distillate derived from an old process treasured by old fishermen and handed down by forefathers.

Anchovies are fished in springtime, they’re cleaned by hands and then set into an oaken box (called terzigno), by alternating a layer of salt and a layer of anchovies through the “head-tail” technique.

The pressing and the ageing of anchovies produce a liquid that is tapped off and exposed to the natural summer sunlight.

At the end of the ageing (in about 4-5 months), between the end of October and the beginning of November, the liquid is spilled again in the terzigno. The sauce, by slowly passing through the various layers of salt and anchovies (so the term straining), taps off the best of organoleptic features and spills out by a bore made at the bottom of the terzigno. 

At the end of December, the anchovies straining is ready: it’s a strong flavored dressing that can be used on vegetables, meat etc. 

Even today Cetara is the only place where the anchovies straining is yet produced by the ancient tradition. The production is limited due to the large amount of anchovies needed in extracting just a few drops.

The Italian Department of Agriculture included this product in the list of traditional agricultural and food products to protect.

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