Salty, pungent, sharp
Anchovies bring on bad breath
Offense is worth it
Yeah, I know, don’t quit my day (prose-writing) job, right? But anchovies are one of those foods that bring out the passion (as in love or hate) in people. Drive them to drink. Or to write bad poetry.
I never liked anchovies as a ch…
No wait … I HATED anchovies as a child. Somewhere between young adulthood and sanity, though, I decided to give them another chance. Now I’m a devoted fan. I like them on my pizza. I like them in (authentic) Caesar salad. I like them crammed into green olives. Lucky for me I don’t need to avoid salt for my health.
So when I opened the Vincent Price cookbook and found the anchovy toast recipe, I knew I had to give it a try. The actual title of the recipe is “Grilled Anchovies,” because after you spread your toasted baguette slices with the stuff, you lay on a pat of butter and stick them under the broiler.
As much as I wanted to follow the recipe point by point, I just couldn’t add the butter. I’m sure that would have been lovely, but … Too Many Calories. So we just spread the mixture on the toast and called it good. And oh it was. According to the description, the Prices got the recipe from Boulestin, “one of the grander restaurants in London.”
Just to make things interesting, I decided to look for an updated recipe for an anchovy spread so I could make both dishes and compare them. I went on the internet to see what I could find, and there was Jacques Pepin, in one of a series of videos of his version of “fast food.”
So I made Pepin’s anchovy spread as well as Vincent Price’s. I love the pure anchovy-ness of the Price version. Chef Zuz favors the Pepin recipe, which mellows out the anchovies’ sharpness with the help of some almonds, bread cubes, and olive oil. (Pepin doesn’t give the actual recipe in the video, but if you search for “anchovy spread” and “Pepin,” you should find it.)
Can of anchovy fillets in oil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
½ teaspoon minced garlic
The Prices give directions for pounding the fillets in a mortar. I just dumped everything into my mini-prep and pushed the button.
Spread the deliciousness on toasted baguette slices. I recommend you enjoy these along with an incredibly cold martini.