If it’s true that our eyes can perceive 10 milion colours, it’s also true that you can find ALL of them when you get to see the Amalfi Coast!
Finding yourself immersed in a place like that is something really hard to describe. When you walk through the alleys of the villages on the coast, a beautiful scent of fresh lemons and the colouful landscapes will leave you completely speechless.
I decided to visit the Amalfi coast last Summer and a small fishing village caught my attention: Cetara, a village that was originally a settlement for a group of armed Muslims in 880.
Characterized to be a village of fishermen (especially of tuna), its name take origins probably from the Latin word Cetaria (in Greek Ketèia), meaning almadraba (in Italian tonnara); or cetari, meaning fishmongers of big fishes.
What I have particularly found interesting, besides all the amazing food and the beautiful sea, is the process of something I think it’s THE symbol of the tradition of Cetara: the colatura. Maybe the most representative element of Cetara’s tradition, colatura is an amber-coloured liquid made from fermented anchovies in brine. It is commonly used to flavor pasta and other dishes.
History & tradition
I’ve been told from locals that colatura was born by a mistake!
Fishermen from Cetara had some debts with the cardinal of Amalfi, so every now and then they owned him 1/10 of their catch.
The Amalfitan monks used to store that fish in some casks in the basement of the church in which they lived, but one of the casks remained untouched for like two years since they forgot to have it. Once they found that, they saw a brownish liquid coming out the cask and when they tasted it, they noticed that it was good to flavor vegetables, potatoes and grilled fish.
Colatura – The making of
I decided to write my story about my experience in Cetara and the process of the making of colatura through the colours that most inspired me.
Green: the colour of the mountains around the amazing village, where you can find hundreds of lemon trees and citrus groves. Green is also the colour of parsley, a frequently used herb in local dishes.
Blue: the vastnees of Amalfi coast’s sea. It’s where everything starts: alici (anchovies) are one of the main elements of the Mediterranean diet. They are particularly famous among the locals: in fact, fisherman go out in the middle of the night to catch the anchovies with a particular sailing boat named Lampara. The name comes from the fact that they use a lamp when they fish, because sardines are attracted to light. Then, they drop their nets so to get the fish, but some will accidentally jump on the boat.
Brown: the casks, called Terzigni,in which the anchovies are kept for almost 5 years. After been caught, the alici are accurately gutted and stored in the casks. Every layer of anchovies is covered with a generous amount of salt. The action is repeated until the terzigno is full. Then the lid will close the cask and a big seastone will press the anchovies. It’s time to start the process of maturazione (maturation).
After several months of maturation, an avriale, which is a specific tool, is used to make a hole under the cask: in doing so, a brownish liquid will start dripping in a glass container.
Yellow: the bright of the lemon used in almost every dish. Locals are very proud of the products they made, I can guarantee that their lemons are really juicy and fresh! I’ve never tasted such lemons before! Actually, I’ve never seen such giant lemons. They’re almost as big as my head. Not even kidding, haha!
Lemons are good to flavor fish, pasta, and… sweets! Yes! If you go to Amalfi coast, make sure to have a taste of the amazing Delizia al limone, a small cake made of fresh lemons!.
Lemons are also used with colatura to flavor pasta. Your taste buds will explode with joy.
Red: ending this article without mentioning tomatoes and chili peppers would be incomplete.
Yes, we all know that tomato means ITALY, and is something you’ll find everywhere, especially with pasta and fish. Something else very common is chili pepper in combination with colatura: the spiceness of chili boostes the strong flavor of colatura, delicious!
What comes from the sea… Ends in spaghetti!
Spaghetti with colatura di alici – Recepe
- 400g spaghetti
- 2 spoons of colatura di alici
- 1 garlic glove
- parsley and chili pepper to taste