The past October the Colatura di Alici di Cetara received the PDO certification ( Protected Designation of Origin) that assets the uniqueness of the product. This success was possible to achieve thanks to the efforts made by the Associazione per la valorizzazione della colatura di alici di Cetara, an organization that brings together local producers, restaurants, and two ship-owners from Cetara. “In these past few years, the Colatura has been spiking the interest not only at a national level but also internationally. But there are lots of products out there that claim to be the real Colatura when, in fact, they are not. That’s why it was important for us to start the process to get the certification so that the Colatura could be recognized and protected.” tells us Lucia Di Mauro, President of the Associazione and owner, with her brothers, of a company based in Salerno, Iasa. The family business, which also specializes in Colatura, was founded 51 years before by her father Francesco Di Mauro. “The association was founded actually to reach the goal of the PDO certification. For the first time ever, restaurant owners will be able to have their stash of Colatura and I’m sure that, together with the producers and fishermen, they will find the best way to enhance this local treasure”, says Di Mauro.
A long journey
At the moment, three restaurants and four production companies are involved in the process to get the PDO certification: San Pietro, La Cianciola, Al Convento and four companies, Iasa, Delfino, Armatore and Nettuno. “As soon as we have the anchovies, we place them here,” says Giulio Giordano, the owner of Nettuno, a well-known Cetara business. “The first step is to remove the heads and guts of the fish, which are then placed in large containers filled with salt and left there for 24 hours to allow the salt to bring out the amber liquid”. This first part of the work is managed by Angela Giordano, the 74 years old sister of Giulio. Angela sits at an iron counter with her head bowed, busy cleaning the anchovies with precise attention and experienced hands; she shows a smoothness in her gestures that comes from the fact that she has been doing this since she was ten years old. “My grandfather opened this business and we are the third generation working in this field,” Giulio explains while showing us the room where the barrels are. The scent fills the room and it’s so intense that when you first enter, you’ll need a few minutes to adjust. The room almost resembles a big library, were it not for the fact that instead of shelters full of books, there are the so-called terzigni, an Italian word that refers to their size being 1/3 of a classic barrel. Once the anchovies are placed inside of those, a cover is placed on the top of the container and weights are applied to the cover so that there is enough pressure to help the fermentation. “Once the time has passed, we make a little hole under the terzigno so that the liquid can flow out of the barrel. Usually, this phase needs at least three years,” Giulio tells us. After that, the fishes that remain on the ladder of the barrel are handed to some local companies that turn them into fish food, so that nothing goes to waste.