Anchovies are a common sight on our tables today, but this small blue fish small with its elongated shape is in fact the result of an age-old process of preservation used by both Greeks and Romans called 'garum'. It is a Hellenic word that describes the fermentation process that was once used to preserve fish in general. In fact, the anchovies of today are the result of covering the fish in salt and letting it “bleed” over a few months. In some cases, producers use herbs or spices that will improve the flavour as the anchovies “cure”.
In Catalonia there are two ways of preparing anchovies. One is that used in l'Escala, in Alt Empordà, which is similar to other areas along the Catalan coast, where local fishermen cure the anchovy in a way that it needs to be desalinated before eating.
There are also canned anchovies, which are first desalinated and filleted and then preserved in oil. Whatever your preference, anchovies are ideal as a snack or in salads, or to accompany bread with tomato and roasted vegetables. In fact, many of the most delicious recipes typical in l'Escala and surrounding areas have led the town to become the capital par excellence of the anchovy in Catalonia.
L'Escala is situated on Catalonia's northeast coast, in the Alt Empordà region, right next to the ruins of Empuries, with the marvellous buildings and mosaics left by Phoenician, Greeks and Romans who settled there centuries ago. We can be thankful to them for leaving us more than just stones and art!