Acquapazza Gourmet: Colatura di Alici di Cetara

The last thing that I thought I would ever find in Italy is fish sauce. Not the imported one from Asia but a version produced right in this country. With its pungent characteristic, I find it hard to understand how it can go well with the Italian cuisine but IT DOES, especially when eaten with dishes typical of the coastal town of Cetara like the simple spaghetti mixed with the sauce, fish and sautéed vegetable dishes. When I saw the stall of Acquapazza Gourmet in Milano Golosa, I waited for my turn among the wall of curious onlookers tasting and understanding the special sauce that's made in Cetara. The colatura di alici was making waves that day.

Francesco Granato and Mario Roberto Penati, two of the proprietors of Acquapazza Gourmet.
I was given a mono portion of mashed potatoes with saffron added with drops of colatura di aliciGiven my lifelong experience with the Asian fish sauce, I never imagined mixing it with mashed potatoes. It was an incredible discovery of harmonious mingling of flavors. It opened up my palate to the introduction of colatura di alici to a wider experience of tastes. Although fish sauce and colatura di alici are almost synonymous in aroma and flavor, the latter has a distinguishing smoothness and roundness that makes it much palatable to a wider selection of tastes.

The similarity stops there because the nature of production differs from each other. Thus, the price of the colatura is also much higher. Colatura di alici is actually anchovy sauce because it is derived solely from fresh anchovies, no other kind of fish. Its roots can be traced back thousands of years back from the ancient Roman period when it was still referred to as garum. 

Picture from Acquapazza Gourmet.
There are some specific details that the colatura di alici producers in Cetara follow. The anchovies used are harvested only in the waters of the Gulf of Salerno and on a certain period of the year, between the end of March until the beginning of July. They are then selected, eviscerated and decapitated. 

Picture from Acquapazza Gourmet.
The cleaned anchovies are alternately layered with salt (specifically salt from Trapani, Sicily) inside the terzigni, small barrels made of chestnut wood then covered with a wooden disc and a big marine stone to provide the weight. The anchovies are left to mature for a few months. As a result of the maturation and pressure of the weight, some liquid emerges on the surface which is collected and exposed to the sunlight in which evaporation makes it more concentrated.  

Picture from Acquapazza Gourmet.
After six months, the liquid is poured back in the terzigni, where it passes slowly through the layers of anchovies inside and seeps out from a small hole at the bottom of the barrel. The transparent amber liquid drips inside a clear glass container then it is finally bottled and sold as colatura di alici.

Acquapazza Gourmet Colatura di Alici are available in 50 ml., 100 ml., 250 ml. and 500 ml. bottle sizes.  They can be bought online. Google the product and check the site that sends to your country.

Acquapazza Gourmet

Via Tuoro, 4
84010 Cetara (SA), Italy
Tel: +39 3358007794

More Quality Italian Products: