The eyebrows that fell onto the pizza – The Denver Post

I call them “the eyebrows that fell onto the pizza.”

They are not very enticing, those tinned anchovies, a dull sandstone red-brown and their wee bones ready to tickle your throat if you don’t chew them well enough. If you chew them at all … .

People avoid anchovies not merely because they look weird, but because they claim anchovies are too strong in the flavor department. I mean, they are the definition of “fishy,” right?

But we eat anchovies all the time without knowing it, mainly because we don’t see them coming. They’re the sixth ingredient listed (out of around 12) in Worcestershire sauce. They’re in every proper Caesar salad dressing, never mind if they’re not also laid whole on top of the romaine; they’re in every proper black olive tapenade.

You can bet many chefs use them at the restaurants where they feed you: in pasta puttanesca, on the hanger steak for steak frites, in the fish sauce at every Thai or Vietnamese joint you’d ever patronize.

Never noticed, did you? And those chefs’ foods are tasty, eh?

Most times in your own kitchen, it’s a good idea to think like a chef anyway. They and their kin have figured out a lot for us. We pay them for flavor; why not imitate it at home for less a charge?

Chefs use anchovies all the time to add enormous savor to foods. Anchovies are a food very high on the umami or glutamate scale (as are Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, dried tomatoes, mushrooms, soy sauce and sweet corn). A little goes a long way to make us salivate over sauces, dressings, braising liquids, toppings, stews and other wet foods that use anchovy, even a bit.

Frankly, the intense flavor, even aroma, of anchovy melts into and quite disappears when used these ways in the kitchen. The pungency of the misplaced eyebrow is just a one-off at the pizza parlor; it’s not the norm in good cooking.

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