You know, food is one of the most appreciated aspects of the Italian culture and if you are planning to travel across the Amalfi Coast, well, you will have the chance to try some of the most genuine, tasty food of your entire life.
The best thing is that food is fantastic during the whole year so, if you are in the Amalfi Coast during the low season and weather isn’t good enough to let you wandering around, you can always pamper yourself with a culinary tour, especially if you love fish and you are curious to go beyond the same old (good) pizza.
I think you should start your food-experience in Cetara.
Cetara is situated near Vietri sul Mare, in a narrow valley with vineyards and citrus groves all around and, like other towns of the Amalfi Coast, it is an old fishermen’s village.
For a long time fishermen used to leave Cetara in spring to reach Algeria and Morocco for the anchovies and then come back home in autumn. Anchovies (but also Tuna) are the main ingredient of the traditional cuisine of Cetara.
Now, try to immagine yourself sitting in a nice restaurant in Cetara. It’s December. The changing color of the winter sea is magic, the steep hill behind you makes you feel protected from the rest of the world. You hear people talking in Italian all around and the atmosphere is so quiet and authentic. Then, the waiter comes at you table with a plate of spaghetti with ‘colatura di alici’, the typical anchovies sauce of Cetara. Believe me, a single mouthful and you cannot help thinking about immediately moving to Italy!
Spaghetti with ’Colatura di Alici’ is the classic dish that people in Cetara eat on the Christmas Eve dinner. But I must be clear: ’Colatura di Alici’ is more than a mere fish sauce. In a certain way it is a ritual in which people is involved for a long part of the year.
Let me explain how it’s made.
The fresh anchovies caught in Spring are placed for 24 hours in containers with plenty of sea salt.
Then small wood casks are filled with alternated layers of anchovies and salt, covered with a wooden disc on which are placed weights. The pressure and the fermentation leads to the formation of a liquid which later is stored into glass containers and exposed to the direct sun to make it more concentrate. After 4 or 5 months, between October and November, the liquid is poured with anchovies into wooden cask. It slowly trickles among the fish layers, reaping more flavor, and comes out from a hole in the barrel. After that, it is filtered through linen cloths and it is finally ready to be used at the beginning of December.
So, when you are having a plate of spaghetti with ’Colatura di Alici’ you are experiencing something very special, something that goes beyond the simple act of eating good food.
Cetara has many interesting surprise for you, but I think that ’Colatura di Alici’ is the one that you cannot miss.
One last thing. Please, while you’re in Italy enjoy the food and don’t worry too much about the weight gain. I promise your happiness will increase, too!