Moroccan Anchovies vs Peruvian Anchovies

It was a weird, slow week at Market. Call me a new age weirdo, but I’m blaming the harvest moon. Life always gets a little bit strange when the universe’s patterns and predictability are askew, like a great cosmic toe-stubbing.

But, If poison dart frogs and the Smokey Mountains teach us anything, it is that the universe is oriented toward the right thing at the right time. Our illustrious weekday staff (known on this blog as F. and J.) spent the extra time clearing overstock shelves and categorizing our olive oil by country, a project that I have wanted to complete for, oh, 2 years or so. I made some serious headway on some of my big ideas, and oh yeah, we sampled anchovies.

The first time I had an anchovy was shortly after I started working at the store. We had a can of salt packed whole anchovies go past it’s date (even though food expiration dates mean absolutely nothing), so I graciously volunteered to take them home. That afternoon, this 25 year veteran of vegetarianism, only newly eating fish, spent an entire afternoon ripping the heads off the suckers and tearing out their teensy tiny backbones. They were OK, but they were a little violent for my liking.

It was A Tavola Pizza that turned me on to anchovies again, with their white anchovy and fontina pizza. Oh my. That is one of the best things I have ever eaten, anywhere. And I eat A LOT. Now I am obsessed. I can eat them by the jar, or tin, or however they come.

It was J. who noticed our Roland anchovies came from two different places, Morocco and Peru. The packaging is deceptively similar, but the products are completely different. My hunch was right. The Moroccans are worlds apart. The Peruvians were mushy, almost like a paste, and, at the risk of sounding obvious, salty. Extremely saltly, with little else in the way of flavor. The Peruvian s are wild caught, which does not always mean better, environmentally speaking.

The tin of Moroccan anchovies, however, was picked clean by the end of the day. They were also salty, but the salt amplified their richness. J. shared a wedge of Danish chedder and all three of us rewarded our efforts with a Seamark cracker topped with cheese and a Moroccan anchovy. It made our slow day a little bit fancier.

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