Almanac Food: KD’s Kitchen – The Anchovy: Èlite Piscine Performer


Still Life With Anchovies, Antonio Sicurezza, 1972. (Source: Wikimedia Commons.)


KD’s Kitchen: The Anchovy – Èlite Piscine Performer


Ah, the anchovy! That slippery, oily, salty whack of wonderful fishy flavour!


For me – and anchovies do divide opinion, I admit – there’s no better taste experience in the world than eating quality anchovies out of olive oil, dropping their slender fillets into your mouth one by one, and washing them down with an ice cold beer.


The anchovy is also that special ingredient which makes pizzas significantly better, adding an X factor – whether it be in a classic combination with mozzarella, olives and oregano on a Napoletena, or as an addition to other pizza varieties such as the Marinara or Capricciosa.


The anchovy, furthermore, is excellent as a component of pasta toppings. So many recipes are available on the net in this respect, but, as a general principle, my preference is for something simple, like a version including spaghetti, anchovies, parsley, olive oil and garlic. Alternatively, one could follow a Puttanesca recipe, which typically involves tossing a range of available pantry items, including our fishy friend, into the mix; again, many recipes can be found online in this context.


You can also fry anchovies or put them in a salad. They are so versatile, even being part of the original early nineteenth century recipe for Worcestershire sauce. Way before then, including in the ancient Roman era, anchovies were an often-used ingredient in a popular condiment known as garum.


Finally, what anchovies are best to buy? Basically, I believe all the ones encountered on an Australian supermarket shelf have a respectable place in the line-up, though one does notice that the more expensive brands generally have a subtle superiority of flavour and texture. The best thing to do is purchase one of the costlier brands if they are on special; often, I’ve found, at least one of them is.


So, this is my basic message: if you are an anchovy aficionado, play on, experiment, and enjoy! If not, be a bit daring, and try them out in various ways – you may well be pleasantly surprised!


Garum amporae from Pompeii. (Source: Wikipedia.)



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Kevin Densley is a poet and writer-in-general. His fourth book-length poetry collection, Sacredly Profane, has just been published (late 2020) by Ginninderra Press. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press. Recent other writing includes screenplays for films with a tertiary education purpose. He laments the extinction of Cascade Pale Ale and Kiwi Lager.


  1. Kevin Densley says

    Hi Almanackers! A pleasant day to all!

    It would be a fine thing to hear from you about what YOU think of the opinion-dividing anchovy. One of the most enjoyable aspects of previous food articles I’ve written for the Almanac (e.g. about Worcestershire Sauce, the jaffle, the Napoletana pizza) was hearing back from readers about their food-related preferences in these contexts).

    I’m very interested in your views!

    Cheers, KD.

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