The fishing village of Cetara in the province of Salerno is famous for its 'colatara di alici' or fishy, sardine sauce. Once upon a time called garum by the ancient Romans.
Colatara di alici is getting better known all the time, not just as one of Italy's typical regional products to be rediscovered, but also by global food firms looking to it as a condiment for the future.
in fact, our visit to one of the small factories in the town was to accompany a food researcher form Japan looking to discover the secret properties of this ancient product.
Today's colatura is still made much as it was in Roman times, when it formed an essential ingredient in the cuisine.
Firstly, the sardines, or pesce azzuro, are left in wooden vats to decompose under pressure (top image).
The subsequent concentrated fish oil is then filtered away to be bottled (image above).
We have seen 'colatara di alici' on sale in general supermarkets, but look carefully and don't buy it if one of the ingredients is water.
In fact, don't buy it ever from supermarkets, go to Cetara.
As well as the usual suspects - Gambero Rosso, Vini Buoni d’Italia, Slow Food and assorted local dignitries - the real stars are the small factories and workshops keeping colatura alive, so to speak.
The 'Associazione Amici delle Alici' and 'Confraternita del pesce azzurro' are also the people worth getting to know about local fish culture in Cetara,
The associations are also part of an annual appointment to celebrate the sauce every December.
Do try your colatura in one of the restaurants in Cetara such as San Pietro, Al Convento or La Cianciala near Piazza San Francesco