Colatura di alici is a highly concentrated saline mixture derived by the drippings of the anchovies packed in wood barrels with salt.
It is an amber-colored liquid produced by aging salted anchovies from the Gulf of Salerno, caught from March through the beginning of July. Immediately after they are caught, the anchovies are cleaned by hand and salted, then layered in oak containers. After four or five months, the liquid that drips out from a small hole in the base of the container is collected and used as a unique condiment, particularly well suited to spaghetti or linguine.
[...] Some say that colatura is the direct descendant of garum, the fish-based seasoning of the Romans. (...) But many experts and the people in and around Cetara (pronounced chay-TAR-ah) insist their version is much more genteel.
Arthur Schwartz, a cookbook author who runs a cooking school near Cetara, said the Romans used ''all kinds of fish, whatever they had, not just anchovies, and they didn't gut them, they just left them whole.''
The resulting product ''must have been much funkier and oilier,'' he said. ''Not that the anchovies they use for colatura are superclean or anything. They don't rinse them before putting them in with the salt. But it's the little bits of guts still clinging to the fish that give the colatura its special something.''
Colatura is definitely somewhat of a relic, even in Cetara.
A generation ago, all the houses in town had a wooden barrel (often left over from winemaking) of fermenting fish juice in their basements, small amounts of which were exchanged traditionally as Christmas gifts.


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    [ Melissa Clark "Essence of Anchovy From the Amalfi Coast" New York Times (October 22, 2003) ]


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