OK, tried this with a big slick of anchovy butter (no wussing out this time).

Please note the presence of real pieces of the substance I now think of as evilfish™.

I ate it all.  I’m not going to be all postive and say I enjoyed it.  Because I spent the whole time thinking about how nice the toast and eggs and parsley would be without the bass note of evilfish.

But I will soldier on.  Next recipe I have picked is a puttanesca sauce, since I love it and make it often but always leave out the evilfish.  The recipes always say, “whatever you do, don’t omit the anchovies!  They are so important to this dish.  If you don’t use them you are missing out and you’re also probably a terrible person who clubs baby seals!”  Or, you know, something along those lines.

It’s a step up, an opportunity to eat the fish in a more confronting, more… whole sense.

If you have a great recipe, pass it on, would you?

So I read around the blogosphere, Tomato’s post in particular.  It seems like the best thing to do would be get my hands on a tin of Ortiz anchovies.  Failing that — and frankly, I DID fail that, because I am not rich and I am not sure I want to spend THAT MUCH money on something that currently makes my gut turn circles, get some good quality ones from Meditteranean Wholesalers.

You know, I should have just forked out for the Ortiz, because I never once left that store without dropping at least $50 and this was no different.  One enormous block of Parmesan, one almond tart, some grape jam, three fresh pastas and a gross domestic product of tinned tomatoes later, I have anchovies in the house.  And stoopid me, they’re whole fish, backbone included gratis. I’m going to have to fillet the little bastards every time.  But I opened the packet and if the absence of a strong fishy smell is (as with fresh fish) a good sign, then I’m set.

I chose a wussy first recipe.  Anchovy Butter.

I figured it was a pretty good starter recipe, as there were no actual bits of anchovy in there.  Anchovy as a seasoning, really.  I mean, I had to mash them.  With hands, because really?  How exactly do you mash a fish?  Wah, now my hands smell like evil fish.

He Who’ll Eat Anything wandered through the kitchen and had to be stopped, fish midair, and warned to fillet it before it disappeared down his gob.

Gingerly spread on a piece of gutsy and delicous sourdough, the anchovy really did taste more like a seasoning.  Fish took a back seat to the salt, pepper, lemon, butter, but it was there with a fairly pleasant richness.  I didn’t hate it.  But I think next time I should maybe spread it a little less thin.  Still and all: attempt #1 is so far successful.

Anchovy Butter:

  • 2 anchovies or 4 fillets
  • 100g of butter, softened
  • Juice of a lemon
  • Generous sprinkling of pepper

Mash together and pop in the fridge.

Apparently it’s good with toast and eggs.  I’ll try that next time.

I have always hated anchovies.  I started life as a white girl in a small town, and the foods I liked were pretty typical of that lifestyle.  My parents were pretty progressive as country Australia goes, but to illustrate, you could not buy a fresh fish, let alone an udon noodle, and the one Asian restaurant in town covered ten or so different national cuisines — badly.

Over the years I have grown up — and learned to cook, well.  Moved to one of the most multicultural cities in the world, Melbourne.  Turned vegetarian, then vegan, then back again to omnivore, which funnily enough increased the number of foods I enjoy to include soy and lentils and opened up a world of Indian cuisine to me.  I married a man who is part Japanese, part Sri Lankan, part lots of other things, who will eat dried, rotted fish on a stick and enjoy the fuck out of it.

On the whole I am a really versatile eater and a better than average cook.  But to paraphrase Jeffrey Steingarten, being a cook who won’t touch anchovies is a bit like being an art critic who can’t stand the colour yellow.  It’s time that I put an end to the madness.