Embrace Anchovies

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Yo, anchovies, they’re foul, right? Nasty little briny cretins smiling up at you from their orange-oiled death tub. Let’s just stick to safe, wholesome backyard classics, like miscellaneous swine parts stuffed into intestinal casing, or pucks of meat-paste grilled into grayness.

“Grossness” as a grounds for food dismissal is mystifying. The things we eat often have unexpected, unfamiliar origins, so unless you’re loyal to some general axiom (e.g., no foods that cause significant suffering to animals), maybe you shouldn’t arbitrarily rule them out one by one. Being okay with a food is a function of personal exposure and cultural acceptance: the same kids who teased me for eating sour-smelling dairy goop years ago are now scarfing Greek yogurt between meals.


With that in mind, let’s figure out what to do with these little swimming fishies, because I just bought a tin yesterday. Even as someone who prefers simple recipes, I figure they will open up all kinds of subterranean caves of flavor; “depth” seems to be the through-line in all the anchovy praise.

Some options, then:

* Put them in a Caesar salad dressing, where they’ve been lurking all along, yes, in any good Caesar salad you’ve ever had.


* With minimal effort, pluck them right out the tin and into your mouth, or onto some crackers.

* Top a pizza, which, unfortunately, is probably where most people learned their skepticism.


* Toss them in a pasta sauce, as Foodspinner Albert suggests, and let their terribly offensive fish forms dissolve into general, umami-funk goodness.

* Melt them in during the early phases of a stir-fry.

There are good reasons to hate anchovies—salt hyper-sensitivity, maybe—but I encourage you to discover them for yourself, instead of relying on a flat stereotype. They’re mad cheap and versatile. Any suggestions?