PISCIOTTA, ITALY - 21 APRIL 2018: Fisherman Vittorio Rimbaldo (56) is seen here on his fishing boat as he gets ready to fish alici di Menaica (Menaica anchovies) in Pisciotta, Italy, on April 21st 2018.
Former restaurant owners Donatella Marino and her husband Vittorio Rimbaldo have spent the recent years preparing and selling salted anchovies, called alici di menaica, to a growing market thanks to a boost in visibility from the non-profit Slow Food. The ancient Menaica technique is named after the nets they use brought by the Greeks wherever they settled in the Mediterranean. Their process epitomizes the concept of slow food, and involves a nightly excursion with the special, loose nets that are built to catch only the larger swimmers. The fresh, red anchovies are immediately cleaned and brined seaside, then placed in terracotta pots in between layers of salt, to rest for three months before they're aged to perfection.While modern law requires them to use PVC containers for preserving, the government recently granted them permission to use up to 10 chestnut wood barrels for salting in the traditional manner. The barrels are “washed” in the sea for 2-3 days before they’re packed with anchovies and sea salt and set aside to cure for 90 days. The alici are then sold in round terracotta containers, evoking the traditional vessels that families once used to preserve their personal supply.
Unlike conventional nets with holes of about one centimeter, the menaica, with holes of about one and half centimeters, lets smaller anchovies easily swim through. The point may be to concentrate on bigger specimens, but the net also prevents overfishing.