What about José?
We meet with José and one of his three sons Gudiker in the small harbor of Bermeo, on the North West Spanish coast, an area known as the Cantabrian Sea. They own and work in one of only three companies which are Slow Food certified for the production of anchovies. The origin of anchovy preserves in the Spanish Basque Country dates from the Italian craftspeople who came to Spain at the end of the 19th century in search of the fish that had become scarce in their waters. They discovered that the best quality anchovies could be found in the Cantabrian Sea and taught the local people how to preserve them. “We still produce them the way Italians taught us hundred years ago” says José. “It’s funny you know, I spend six months a year in other countries working in other companies who produce artisanal anchovies”, José smiles, “and a couple of those are in Italy. So I am effectively teaching them back what they taught our previous generations”. José explains how he enjoys visiting other countries while still practicing an art he knows well. While he is away the company is run by his three sons, the youngest one in his early thirties. All fish are coming from a tight area around the town, and fished with traditional techniques, by several families of fishermen. “The production is limited, once it is gone we simply stop producing, we will never buy it from other regions.” Anchovies off the coast of North-West Spain are especially delicious because of the cooler waters and the area's special algal "blooms" on which they feed. The fishing season is short, only ten weeks, from around mid-April to the end of June, depending on the weather. This is the peak time for the best-quality anchovies. The fish are at their most tender and plumpest in spring just before breeding, which happens as soon as the temperature of the water begins to rise. The anchovies are brought as quickly as possible from the fishermen boats to José's company. There they are cleaned one by one, removing the head and cutting away any of the bones, then delicately placed inside each pot with salted water. “Can you imagine?” says José proudly while holding one of the pots in front of us , “one by one! You can see this by how nice each filet is!”.