Anchovy Butter

Anchovy Butter, the topic that came up three times this past week. I never liked anchovies. I don’t like fish. I like Caesar dressing and well, I like anchovy butter sauce. It all started when my boyfriend and I were in the market section of a local Greek restaurant and saw canned anchovies for sale. He wanted to buy every can while I scoffed in disgust. He proceeded to name all the ways he loved anchovies – on crackers, in Caesar dressing, on pizza, etc. Then, I remembered the one time anchovies changed my mind for a day.

My favorite class in culinary school was Stocks & Sauces. Yes, it was a class where we did nothing but spend hours on delicious, rich sauces that accompanied yummy pieces of meat, fish, vegetables, eggs, and so on. Then… we got to eat it all! I still have my book and refer to it quite often. The French know how to make a good sauce. Anyway, we did not get to choose what we made in class. We were assigned a recipe. One day while in Stocks & Sauces, I was assigned “Anchovy Butter Sauce”. The way the book worked was it would show the entire sauce recipe on one page, but each component of the sauce had to be created as well, so then you would have to look up that component and create it to be able to complete your sauce. For example, one has to make beef stock in order to make a Demi glace and one has to make a béchamel in order to make a Mornay. I had to make anchovy butter to make my sauce. I was disgusted. Everything about anchovies grosses me out – the fact that it is fish, the fact that the fish are so tiny that they look like bait, the fact that they are stuffed..in a can..in oil..at room temperature..for who knows how long. I did not want to do it, but I had to. I created the anchovy butter which was very simple – I whipped room temperature butter with chopped anchovies in a mixer. I then gradually added small bits of the butter to a heated veloute. Veloute is a mother sauce composed of chicken or vegetable stock, butter, and flour. So, yes, I had to create a veloute to make the anchovy butter sauce. After hours of preparation, the sauce was complete and I am here to tell you that never have I tasted a sauce so delicious since. I served it over seared tilapia and I wanted to eat the entire platter. The sauce was silky, buttery, savory, salty, and heavenly. It gave the tilapia a whole new identity. I could not believe I had proven myself wrong about not liking anchovies!

So, this story came up several times this past week and got me thinking about why I haven’t made that sauce since school. It is very affordable and fairly easy to prepare. My boyfriend would love it and so would a few of my friends, I am sure. So… why not? Why do we choose not to do things that are good for us or that we like out of surprise? We train ourselves to like and dislike certain things. I had decided I did not like fish at a very young age; therefore, I was closed off to the whole anchovy idea. I would never have made that sauce if I had not been assigned the recipe by my professor. Although the sauce was delicious and to my surprise, I loved it, I stuck to the belief that I do not like anchovies. That is why I have yet to cook with them again. What if we changed our habits/beliefs? Scary, I know! It sounds challenging. It sounds daunting. It feels wrong. It feels uncomfortable. We know what we like… or do we? Open-mindedness is life-changing. Maybe start with small things like food, a new product (detergent, candles, makeup), activity (yoga, walking/running, swimming, dancing, etc.) and see what happens. In no way are you obligated to continue with what you are trying out. In no way do you have to succeed at what you are trying out. In no way are you expected to LIKE what you are trying out. Just give it a try. Even if you do not continue with the thing, it will feel good to have tried and when we try something, a seed is planted. Our horizon broadens. The fact that we tried sticks with us. It opens doors for opportunity in the future. If you ever come across something else that you are afraid to try or uncomfortable about, you can remember that one time you tried that one thing and the fear will subside. New is good. Change is good. What is life without change?

~M

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