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Anchovies from Monterosso

Anchovies are the "Pan du ma", the bread of the sea, of the inhabitants of Monterosso and the other villages.

Traditional dish of all the Cinque Terre, they are fished from June onwards, when the anchovies end the long journey that takes them from the Atlantic Ocean to the coasts of eastern Liguria after crossing the Strait of Gibraltar, and the Spanish and French seabeds.

The waters of Monterosso have a different salinity, with a favorable annual average humidity and temperature. So the Monterosso anchovies are firmer and tastier. From 29 June, day of Saint Peter, small boats go out to sea at night to fish with the traditional "lampara method".

Once fished, the processing is very important. After having removed the head and the entrails, the anchovies are arranged in layers in jars, where they rest for a few hours covered with salt. After this, they are placed radially in chestnut barrels or clay pots, with each layer covered with salt. Finally it's time for the brine. The barrel is covered by a wooden disc and a weight of about ten kilos which presses the anchovies.

Maturing takes place in the dark, for about 40-60 days, until the anchovies are compact and consistent, with a pink or brown color.

The anchovies thus seasoned are sold in jars, ready to be eaten, either simply with oil, oregano and a garlic scent or well cleaned with warm bread and a good glass of Cinque Terre wine.

In Monterosso, two typical festivals are celebrated in June and September: the fried anchovy festival and salted anchovy festival.