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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

LOVE AND ANCHOVIES

What would I do without Brian? He rubs my feet whenever I ask and doesn’t mind when I sign him up for early-morning golf lessons. He happily takes long treks across the city with me (provided he gets a meal or at least a frosty beer at the end) and tackles big piles of dirty dishes with gusto. And there’s this: it’s not easy finding a special someone who shares your enthusiasm for anchovies.

We eat the fishy kind from a jar and the wimpier ones that come in a tin. We eat boquerones—Spanish marinated anchovies—and sardines, too, even though they’re not really anchovies. We eat them draped over salads, dissolved in spaghetti sauce, tucked into sandwiches. And yes, sometimes we even eat them on pizza.

That we don’t recoil at the very mention of anchovies makes us two of an apparently rare breed. Even friends who happily slurp oysters and possess insatiable appetites for sushi draw the line at these salty little fish. Is it their disconcertingly leech-like appearance? Is it their taste? Possibly—but I don’t think so. After all, how can you dislike a flavor you’ve never experienced? Yes, I suspect most anchovy-avoiders wrinkle their noses without ever having tried the little fishies. If you really don’t like anchovies, fine. However, if you just assume you don’t like them—but haven’t actually tasted them—please give anchovies a chance.

This sandwich—a takeoff on the classic Italian treat Mozzarella in Carrozza—is a terrific showcase for anchovies. Their salty, fishy flavor stands out, but is tempered somewhat by the creamy mozzarella cheese. The red pepper flakes add a lively jolt of heat. Traditionally, Mozzarella in Carrozza is fried, but Brian and I like our panino version just as much. If you don’t own a panini press, try making it in a pan, like a grilled cheese.

MOCK MOZZARELLA IN CARROZZA

Olive oil
2 thick (about ½ inch) slices of rustic Italian bread
Fresh mozzarella
Flat anchovies from a tin
Red pepper flakes

Brush outside (the part that will touch the press) of each bread slice with olive oil. On one piece of bread, layer mozzarella (just enough to cover), 2-4 anchovies, and red pepper flakes to taste. Top with other bread slice. Cook in panini press until bread is golden and cheese is gooey.

5 Comments:

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