Tim made Sicilian anchovy pasta sauce tonight. It is made with garlic, parsley, lots of anchovy, and tomato, served with a topping of crunchy bread crumbs rather than grated cheese. It is delicious.
I looked up anchovies. They are a group of fish - some 140 kinds of oily little fish. They are in a group called "forage fish", that is, the ones that almost all the predatory fish feed on. The forage fish feed on plankton and newly-hatched fish, which puts them just above the bottom of the ocean food chain. Anchovies range from less than an inch to 16 inches long, greenish with a blue sheen and they congregate in huge schools. They swim about in synchrony with their mouths open, catching plankton. They like waters all over the world that are not too cold or hot, and prefer fairly shallow areas like bays and estuaries.
Netted anchovies are gutted and salted, then matured, then packed in oil or brine. The ancient Romans loved a type of fermented fish sauce made from anchovies, which was considered to have aphrodisiac properties. Many cultures in Asia use anchovy-based fish sauces.
Anchovies have a strong tangy flavor, but in the Sicilian sauce we enjoyed tonight they are mellow and rich. The dish makes me feel happy - perhaps it is the aphrodisiac at work.