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What to eat in Cinque Terre: the anchovies of Monterosso


Anchovies in italian are called “acciughe”

A few curiosities about the anchovies of Monterosso, traditionally called “pan du ma”, the “bread of the sea”: why is it such a typical dish here in the Cinque Terre? Obviously, the main answer is that here, in Monterosso, anchovy fishing is concentrated… but not only.

Anchovies as food supply and their benefits

In the whole italian coasts and in particular in the Cinque Terre, it is typical to preserve anchovies under salt. This way local people had fish troughout wintertime. This food supply was also used for bargaining of other products.
Anchovies under salt were used to combat the seasickness because they avoid the creation of the stomach acids. They can be used before a car trip too. We need 3-4 months to obtain a correct salation.

The anchovies fishing method

Here is Monterosso, Cinque Terre, these small fish are really only fished in a restricted area of only 12 miles from the coast and only in the period from 1 June to 15 July, peaking’ around 29 June. Typical is also the traditional method, which is still occasionally used, and consists of fishing with a “Lampara” (lamps positioned on the bow), because the shoals of anchovies are attracted not so much by the light as by the plankton they feed on, which becomes phosphorescent thanks to the lighting.

The flavour and the “value” of anchovies

It seems that it is precisely the particular salinity of the sea that gives this type of anchovy its exceptional flavour, less ‘strong’ than other types. Once upon a time, fishing was the main activity in the Ligurian villages and specifically anchovies, which come from the Atlantic Ocean, were a real ‘treasure‘ for the local population, which had renamed this blue fish, whose nutritional properties we now know well, ‘pan du ma’, the bread of the sea.

Where to eat anchovies in the Cinque Terre and how to combine them

A classic aperitif here in the Cinque Terre is a nice plate of anchovies presented filleted, arranged on a plate in an orderly ‘petal’ shape. A simple condiment, a drizzle of Ligurian olive oil and a small piece of garlic, they match very well with the white wine of the Cinque Terre and its salinity. Many bars and restaurants have anchovies on their menu, just ask! Here you can find a list of restaurants with a view while on this page you can find more information on the wines of the Cinque Terre.

Published :
June 26, 2023

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