Anchovies, sardines and mackerel San Benedetto del Tronto comes from a small town of fishermen which gradually expanded. From one generation to the next the people of San Benedetto del Tronto used the Adriatic sea to support their families. A part from fishing for daily needs, the fishing trade has pushed local fishmongers to expand more and more their activities since ancient times. “Paranze” and “Lancette”, boats with special colours and symbols would sail the Adriatic while back on land rope workers, net makers and caulkers were in full swing. Fish has always played a key role in man’s diet. The fishermen of San Benedetto del Tronto used to bring home the “muccigna”, a wicker basket full of the best catch of the day, which the women would either sell or cook for their families. The most common fish were anchovies, sardines and mackerel as they were not expensive and filled the Adriatic. Fishermen used trap trick nets, draught nets and drag fishing nets for this kind of fishing. Anchovies, sardines and mackerel have a dark-blue back (but sometimes green as well) and a silver stomach. It is the most common species in our sea and it is fresh and inexpensive. Other “blue” coloured fish have been added to this list, whose shape and size have nothing in common with the most well-known kinds. Over the last years, doctors and nutritionists have highlighted the importance of eating fish. It has as much fat as vegetables and it is mainly made up of unsaturated fats which are good for your arteries and heart. These fats are not produced by our body and we must therefore introduce them through food. This is why we should eat “blue” fish three times a week. Anchovies, sardines and mackerel contain minerals such as selenium, phosphorus, fluorine, and iodine; vitamins E and B and especially omega3 and omega6 which are important for the development of the brain. According to how it is cooked fish can change its calorie supplement. 100 grams of the edible part of the most common anchovy, without dressing, may go from 89 Kcal to 168 Kcal. Anchovies, sardines and mackerel are eaten fresh; they may however be preserved in oil or salt. The latter is not just a small industrial method (which San Benedetto del Tronto is rich of) but it is also done at home. Typical recipes of the San Benedetto del Tronto area Anchovies “scottadita” hot from the grill On board of an old “paranza”, fishermen would usually carry about 300 “vicciaiate”, doughnut shaped biscuits made of stale bread. The “morè”, a teenager who was the last on hierarchical scale on board, was not at first allowed to eat the “vicciaiate” and had to bring his bread from home. As time went by and according to his work on board, he would eventually join the meal. The loaves were divided in a decreasing order: the “parò”, the “sottoparò”, the “giovanotto” (the youngster), the “morè” himself, the “sbarzucche”(a sea wolf) and eventually the “zautte”(the sea wolf’s assistant). One of the easiest and tastiest recipes is anchovies “scottadita”, as long as the anchovies are very fresh and served hot from the grill. Even today when a boat comes in there is always someone who organizes “on the spot” grilled anchovies, especially on summer nights. Ingredients for 4 people: 700 grams of anchovies, sea water. Preparation: Wash the anchovies in sea water, add wood or charcoal to the grill, lay the anchovies on the grill and cook them for a few minutes. Some fishermen like to add some vinegar before serving. Spaghetti with pesto of anchovies Ingredients for 4 people: 1/2 kilo of boneless anchovies, 400 grams of spaghetti, garlic, 1/5 litre of olive oil, parsley, onion, hot pepper, 1 kilo of peeled tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, wine and cognac. Preparation: Stir fry the olive oil, onion and garlic and add the boneless anchovies already chopped with the hot pepper, parsley, wine and cognac. Cook for 20 minutes while stirring so as not to let the sauce stick. Add the peeled tomatoes and the tomato paste and cook for 15 minutes longer. Cook the spaghetti in a separate pot, drain and then dress the spaghetti with the pesto made of anchovies and sprinkle with parsley. “Cannarù” with sardines A part from the “muccigna”, families used to eat dried fish (cod and octopus). It was also very common to preserve fish in salt (especially sardines and anchovies). The recipe we would like to propose is a dish of pasta (cannarù means zita) with a sauce made of salted sardines. It is a very tasty dish and we will therefore add it to the list of dishes to remember. Ingredients for 4 people: 400 grams of cannarù (zite), 5 salted sardines, 500 grams of tomato pulp, 1 green hot pepper (kind of hot pepper which is bigger but not as hot as the more common red hot pepper), olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic, salt. Preparation: Cook the pasta in plenty of salt water. Pour some olive oil into a pan, add the cloves of garlic already crushed, the boneless sardines already chopped and the hot pepper. Mix together, let it flavour for a few minutes and then add the tomato pulp, take the garlic away and add salt. Cook for about 20 minutes. Drain the pasta, put it into a bowl and add the sauce.
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