Probably one of the most significant ingredients of all. Not only are they supremely good and highly prized in their own right, they are also very effective in enhancing the flavour of other ingredients.
From my studies of 18th-century cooking in England I know that a barrel of anchovies was indispensable in many kitchens to enliven all sorts of recipes. ‘But I don’t like anchovies,’ some of you are thinking. True, they are strong and gutsy – an acquired taste, you say – but they do grow on you.
So keep trying a little here and a little there until you acquire it, and don’t forget that most people who say they don’t like anchovies do like Worcestershire sauce, in which anchovies are the main ingredient.
This is also a great flavour-enhancer and is the British equivalent of the fish sauce of the Far East. As such, it can be used in oriental recipes when fish sauce is not available.
Classic fishcakes are wonderfully frugal food, as they allow you to 'stretch' 1lb of fish to serve 4-6 people. And who's complaining with recipes as good as this, pepped up with the addition of capers, parsley and cayenne?
Just add bread to this lovely beany salad - a cheap and easy meal for very little money and proof that you don't need to spend a lot to eat royally.
Anchovies, capers, parsley and olives - plus garlicky mayo - give this bean salad plenty of punch. Chickpeas and haricots verts are a brilliant source of fibre and highly nutritious. Vegetarians could leave out the anchovies.
This lovely, Italian-inspired aubergine recipe is the essence of late-summer eating and would be a good addition to your barbecue repertoire.
Anchovies, mi-cuit tomatoes, olives, oregano: all strong flavours, but combine them in a processor and you end up with this lovely pate-like result. Spread it on to toasted bread for a type of bruschetta - useful as nibbles at a party.